Tomorrow is new release day and we will see releases from Chris Stamey of the dB’s, Grouplove, Local Natives, some Wham! releases , and of course the Taylor’s version of Speak Now. The album I am most looking forward to is the new ANOHNI and the Johnsons. I don’t have access to that yet, but I did have access to the new PJ Harvey and I spent the morning with it.
PJ Harvey-I Inside The Old Year Dying-Released July 7th 2023
PJ Havey’s tenth album under her name is based off the book length narrative poem titled Orlam that she wrote. That poem is done in the Dorset vernacular, which also comes into play on this album. Thankfully the liner notes include definitions for each song, because most of us think of “wordle” as something completely different than what Polly is saying. So, they lyrics and what is happening here are going to go over my head, and they are. There is a lot of nature, some witch stuff, Elvis and God and a whole lot of things my uncultured mind can not grasp, or am not interested in. What is weird is that Elvis pops up in one song as actual Elvis and then later “elvis” means “all wise”.
Musically, we have a folkish album, but producer Flood is in the room-so we have a lot of loops, samples and effects happening here also. Sometimes it sounds like music that would play maybe late in the evening winding down from drinks after a long day at the Renaissance Faire. I read a review that compared the vocals to Neil Young’s and now I cannot unhear that on some songs. There are moments of pure Polly though such as the first song that is the title track (there are two separate songs that are the title track) that has her classic inflection and vibe intact, but for the most part this will sound unlike most of her “album under her name” work. I do find what is happening here fascinating and appealing considering I have zero connection or interest in that subject matter. I think it is a challenging work that rewards the listener that immerses themselves in it. It will be interesting to see if fans embrace this, though it is not like all of her music has been Alt. Rock Radio ready anyway.
I have listened to this a few times this morning, and part of me is ‘you will never put this on again, quit kidding yourself’, but part of me is that this could grow on me and get played often, especially at certain times or moods. We will see. Worth a listen if you are a longtime fan. Not sure people not invested in Polly will find too much of interest here. Well….not unless you just got done drinking heavily at the Renaissance Faire.