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PJ HARVEY:WHITE CHALK

4.2 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: COMPACT DISC
  • ASIN: B000SFYUV2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,841 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

brani1.the devilascolta2.dear darknessascolta3.grow grow growascolta4.when under etherascolta5.white chalkascolta6.broken harpascolta7.silenceascolta8.to talk to youascolta9.the pianoascolta10.before departureascolta11.the mountain

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Mar. 2008
Format: Audio CD
"A voice comes to one in the dark.
Imagine."

Samuel Beckett (Company 1980).

....and here we have the voice of Polly Harvey. Stripped Bare.

Like the old woman in the rocking chair in Beckett's 'Rockaby';
alone listening to the cracked sound of her own voice.
Memory. Longing. Loss. Hope. Futility.

This is indeed a dark place but a place without artifice. The intimacy
at times almost unbearable.

These 11 songs are an extraordinary addition to Ms Harvey's canon.
Compressed, fleeting evocations; almost suffocating at times in their intensity.

The mood of the album is sustained throughout without respite.

Simple piano/guitar accompaniment, supported by uncluttered additional
instrumentation and vocals. The production unintrusive.

'Dear Darkness', 'When Under the Ether', 'Silence', 'The Piano',
and the superlative 'The Mountain' just some of the highpoints
in a work of claustrophobic genius.

A highpoint in the career of this hugely talented woman.

A small masterpiece indeed.

"And how better in the end labour lost and silence.
And you as you always were.

Alone".

Samuel Beckett (Company 1980).
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Format: Audio CD
Finally, four albums later, I'm enthralled by the wonderous P.J. Harvey once more.
I thought her special brand of genius had been dulled but White Chalk is a return to total form and an utter joy.
Dry, Rid Of Me and Four-Track demos were three of my all time favourites but I haven't truly connected with anything of PJ's since then.
I'm not suggesting the last 4 albums were bad but, for me, they had lost the "edge" I really loved in her music.
Suddenly.....wallop....here is White Chalk. I first heard "When Under Ether" and "The Piano" on the radio without knowing who it was and fell in love with them almost immediately. Totally different and very much "out-there", this is quite a departure and all the better for it.
My joy is rekindled.

This album is exceptional.

I'm so very pleased :)
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Format: Audio CD
Reactions to the surprise of PJ Harvey's eighth album seemed to fall into two camps: those who miss her 'classic' angry guitar-based sound and don't think that White Chalk represents the essence of what a P J Harvey album "should" be; and those who fell under its bleak, ethereal spell.

This time Harvey is seated at the piano and sings in fleeting songs (the whole album lasts less than 34 minutes) of loss, childhood, death, family and abortion, evoking a dusty atmosphere: "The devil wanders into my soul," she sings on the opener, and "Dear darkness, dear darkness, won't you cover, cover me - again?" on the next track. Broken Harp opens with a plea: "Please don't reproach me for how empty my life has become" while the title track sees her strolling in a desolate landscape, lonely and resigned: "Dorset's cliffs lead to the sea / Where I walked our unborn child in me". Families fall apart ("Daddy's in the corner, rattling his keys. Mummy's in the doorway trying to leave"); her dead grandmother is longingly apostrophed; and her mother is invoked to "teach me to grow".

Throughout Harvey sings in a higher register than usual, wailing and impaling herself in the highest reaches of her voice - childlike, fragile and introspective (an acquired taste it seems: some have hated her for this vocal change). The atmosphere feels naked and chilly, as if recorded in a dusty room lined with cobwebs and antique furniture, and recalls the ominous air of gothic novels like Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847). Even the cover, on which Polly looks like a Victorian governess in her puffed white dress and restrained pose, seems eerily reminiscent of a painting of another gothic hero: Edvard Munch's Puberty (1895).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I found myself very excited to hear this album. After a good few listens now I can't pretend to be a fan of it I am sad to say. Every song seems to be in the same key and have similar cadence, and Polly doesn't really use her full range. It may improve for me on many more repeated listens, but to be honest I'm not sure i have the energy. Its beautifully produced, the packaging and photography is stunning, and I have the greatest of respect and love for PJ's work. But this one ain't for me.
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Format: Audio CD
Most of the reviews of this album - both amateur and pro - have tended to focus on the effect rather than the content of these songs. It's true that the shift to piano and away from guitar is a departure, and her switch to a more ethereal vocal style may come as a surprise.

Yet ethereal is precisely what this album is. "When Under Ether" seems to recall an abortion endured semi-conscious while a child's life slips away into nothingness; in other songs she yearns for the companionship of the dead or or begs something unseen for forgiveness. She has "blood on her hands": the white chalk of her native Dorset hills sticks to her shoes. She laments her loss and pain like a banshee or a tragic Hardy heroine.

The haunting subject matter may be oblique to some, though the strange and swirling melodies and almost choral purity of her voice may bewitch those who have not encountered Harvey's music before. As an exploration of a particular kind of female agony, this set of songs is almost without parallel.
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