PJ Harvey & John Parish - A Woman A Man Walked By

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Polly Jean Harvey and John Parish have been collaborating for two decades now, making A Woman A Man Walked By the latest in a long series of intriguing records. Billed as a follow-up to 1996’s similarly credited Dance Hall at Louse Point, this excellent set fits naturally alongside their previous works. This time though Parish wrote all, and played most of the music, while Harvey took vocals and lyrics. And though Parish’s own solo offerings have tended towards contemporary classicism, this set displays veers from blues-rock to the bleakest of folk music. The opening track "Black Hearted Love", built around an irresistible loping guitar riff, could easily fit on one of Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions while "Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen" evokes an unexpectedly sinister English pastoral scene. The delightfully gloomy "April" marries a leaden drumbeat to a stately organ line, "Pig Will Not" clatters in the best Beefheartian tradition, while the title track, a Tourettic bluesy rant, slips into a chaotic instrumental obtusely titled "The Crow Knows Where All The Little Children Go". The sound of a Gold Rush-era piano player looms throughout, especially effective on the broken folk ballad "Leaving California". Deliberately unshowy and continually unpredictable, A Woman A Man Walked By is another fine Harvey and Parish album. --Steve Jelbert

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