PJ Harvey
"White Chalk"

(Universal Island Records 2007)PJ Harvey - White Chalk

There is a far more subtle PJ Harvey on "White Chalk." Full of beautiful melodies and focused on piano and vocals, Harvey strikes the pose of a ballet dancer. Delicate and graceful, Harvey tip toes around elegantly but softly. You have to really listen to hear her words as she offers goodbyes and apologies.

A waterfall of instrumentation sparkles behind Harvey's falsetto vocals on the desolate and echoing "Grow Grow Grow" while "The Piano" seems most like what you might expect from Harvey, music swelling as she sings, "Daddy's in the corner rattling his keys/Mommy's in the doorway trying to leave/Nobody's listening." An unsettlingly yet darkly intriguing sound comes across on "When Under Ether" which is balanced by the brighter pattering melody of the quietly seductive opening track "The Devil." "Please don't reproach me for how empty my life has become," Harvey sings acapella before soft music joins as she opens up on the sincere yet brief "Broken Harp."

Much of "White Chalk" is the same yet different. The minimalist melodies need little assistance and Harvey's vocals never go overboard yet neither are they reserved. With most tracks clocking in at just three minutes, Harvey is not wandering aimlessly. She gets right to business on "White Chalk" and it proves an effective technique. PJ Harvey's "White Chalk" is a beautifully simple album that is as affecting as it is understated.

A-

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