Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

PJ Harvey 

White Chalk (Island)

Sometimes the simplest music is the most affecting. And so it goes with PJ Harvey's new studio album, White Chalk. Absent are the scorched-earth guitars and feral vocals of previous releases. Instead, Chalk finds solace and strength in ascetic arrangements.

This is largely a piano-and-voice album. Icicles drip from the ivories on such standouts as "The Devil" and "Dear Darkness," songs whose atmospherics resemble movie scores. Harvey recently learned how to play piano, which probably explains the childlike innocence of this music.

As for her voice, Harvey stretches its upper range. She sounds like a fallen angel in mourning. The ethereal effect is reminiscent of 1998's Is This Desire?, although the singer's soprano croon and wordless wails on Chalk rely on the contrast between sound and silence for emotional impact. This device works well in tandem with the fragile music, but it's a very different sort of vulnerability than listeners are used to hearing from Harvey. Not that it's a bad thing. In fact, Chalk is exquisite and bewitching -- an ephemeral collection of tunes that flies by too fast.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of CD Review

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays
  • Kiry Shabazz @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Jan. 27
  • Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood @ Packard Music Hall

    • Thu., Jan. 27

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation