Even though A Woman A Man Walked By marks only the second album, and the first in 13 years, whose title credits include both the names of PJ Harvey and John Parish, the duo have been collaborating since 1995’s To Bring You My Love and as recently as 2007’s stellar White Chalk. It’s been a lot of fun to hear the results of their work over the years, and A Woman A Man Walked By works almost as a ‘best of’ without actually encompassing any previous material. The breadth of the album is an intense swing through the arc of Harvey’s career and makes for an engagingly disjointed listen.
Opener “Black Hearted Love” is one of the best songs Harvey has recorded in some time; a slowly chugging burn of a song that hearkens back to her mid-90s work. This mood continues with its follow up, “Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen,” recalling singles like “C’mon Billy” in its instrumentation. But it’s here that the album takes off across its wide spectrum with “Leaving California,” a spectral, airy piece where Harvey’s vocals enter the upper part of her range, sounding like one of the fuller works from White Chalk. “Pig Will Not” is the lone track that reaches back to the abrasive and cathartic work of albums like Dry and Rid of Me. It’s a superb lead-in to the low-key duo that closes the album.
It’s interesting that this album sounds like so much of a hodgepodge of Harvey’s career being that Parish is the one most responsible for its music while Harvey is the key lyricist. That in mind, it obviously shows the consistent partnership that the two have enjoyed over the past 14 years and places A Woman A Man Walked By squarely in the upper ranks of Harvey’s releases – a truly enjoyable work from one of rock and roll’s most consistently thrilling and challenging artists. words/ j neas
Also: We are giving away two pairs of tickets to the June 20th PJ Harvey show at the Wiltern theatre here in Los Angeles. Interested? Leave a comment below with your name, a valid email you can be reached at, and your favorite PJ Harvey LP. Winners will be notified via email — tickets held at will-call. Purchase tickets here.
MP3: PJ Harvey :: Black Hearted Love
MP3: PJ Harvey :: Passionless, Pointless
Amazon: PJ Harvey & John Parrish – A Woman A Man Walked By