home Album Review PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

In Stores October 31st

PJ Harvey has always inspired a certain fear in this listener. The passionate expression of her wanton lust, her desperate desire, the open wounds of love lost and abandonment, pleading prayers and shivering breath all wrapped in a tight, thin little package much too small to sound this huge. She couldn’t possibly be real. Could she? To some, she is a diva, a goddess like no other woman has become. To others, she is a freakish, outlandish, gorgeous piece of ass. Her voice has literally taken on a life of its own over the years. Those who adore her, both male and female, become slaves to what she creates; not only while listening, but while hearing her exposed-nerve lullabies lingering in the air long thereafter.

Polly Jean’s latest offering, ‘Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea‘ (Island) bobs and floats like a tiny paper boat on a giant, black, and glittering ocean. Her signature chanteuse-styled croon swells and moans just as intensely as it always has. Lyrically, it swoons and soars, and commands the listener to heed the call. There has never been a time when PJ sounded more similar to Patti Smith than on track 6, ‘The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore‘. Lest you forget, however, it is always PJ; especially when that familiar shriek rears its stunning head. And as if she weren’t enough for us to handle on her own, she takes her special guest by the hand, and in walks the voice of the always emotionally-stirring Thom Yorke of Radiohead to join her on ‘This Mess We’re In’.

Every song from “Stories” visually plays like a little 8-millimeter film in your mind, complete with aromas, temperature, and temperament. This is especially apparent on ‘You Said Something‘, a very John Parish-inspired, almost Concrete Blonde-like creation that dances all by itself. ‘Horses In My Dreams‘ stands out as one of the many songs on this new release that inspire the need to curl into the fetal position in the middle of your bed, and just absorb it.

‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’ is a must-have for all devout followers of the phenomena that is PJ Harvey. This waif-like woman with the eloquent European style, and soft-spoken, folk flair is an undeniably gigantic presence. One that draws emotions from the depths with a single, sandpaper whisper. She may not be for everyone, nor will everyone ‘get’ her, but one thing is certain – no one can ignore her.

Lesa Pence
–  lesa@unearthed.com

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