Having received some vouchers for Christmas I headed off to the boxing day sale yesterday where everything except vinyl was on offer, which was a shame, but I had vouchers so anything I decided to get was essentially free anyway. I bought 6 albums, and this is the first of that 6, ‘White Chalk’ by P J Harvey.
To be honest I am extremely confused by what I have bought, it’s a full length album that doesn’t appear to play at 33 RPM but at 45, which resulted in my listening to side 1 at too slow a speed, by god it was dark, but actually really rather good. I did realise it was wrong about halfway through but decided to persevere anyway as it was so chilling. The vinyl quality isn’t great, quite crackly when it shouldn’t be at all as it is brand new, although this may be because it was at the wrong speed so it was more prominent.
The cover photography is just lovely, so Victorian, so moody, it’s beautifully done by Maria Mochnacz
This imagery is perfectly suited for the tone of this album, it is without heavy guitar and more piano based, an instrument that Harvey did not play very much before and learned during the recording of this atmospheric album that harks back to an older time.
She also sings in a higher key that usual, which works really well on tracks which, I must say, are growers. These songs are not the sort to grab you by the throat and force you to like them, they are often gentle, mostly dark but really well crafted.
Below are performances of the 3 singles from the album, When Under Ether, The Piano and The Devil: