Monday, December 20, 2010

"People throwing dinars at the belly dancers"

So goes the tremulous opening line of PJ Harvey's Written On The Forehead, which appeared online a few weeks ago to herald the mercurial singer-songwriter's return.

It's a lovely track - Harvey's haunted vocals drifting past an obscure reggae sample (Niney The Observer's excellent Blood And Fire) like a ghostly, abandoned rowing boat.

However, there are more direct songs on her new album, Let England Shake.

Next out the gates is The Last Living Rose, a straightfoward electric guitar strum with an ambling, drunken drumbeat. Harvey paints a picture of England in decay - "a filthy mess of ages and battered books" - but makes it clear she thinks of it as a place of refuge and comfort. It almost feels like a love song.

The video has been shot by photographer Seamus Murphy, combining performance footage, still images and video from a 5,000-mile road trip he took around England. Apparently, he's made short films for all 12 tracks on Let England Shake. On this evidence, they'll come together to form an understated, hypnotic companion piece to the album when it comes out on 14th February.

I can't wait.

PJ Harvey - The Last Living Rose

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