PJ HARVEY | I-Tunes Sessions

Fresh off her second Mercury Prize win last week, PJ Harvey has a new I-Tunes Session up, featuring a mix of seven songs and a 24-minute interview. The session was recorded in April at East West Studios in Hollywood, California, and features songs from 2011’s “Let England Shake” and older tunes like “Angelene” and “Down By the Water”. You can purchase the sessions at this link. Also, read an archived Their Bated Breath post here. It’s my song-by-song review of the record, written as a listened to the album for the first time. I found this to be one of PJ’s strongest albums in years. It’s her direct look at what it means to be disillusioned. One of many highlights on the release, is “Hanging In the Wire”, one of the best song’s she’s ever written. Here’s how I described her song, “The Last Living Rose”, which she played during the I-Tunes Session: “Now this is genius. PJ’s voice is bathed in an aquatic reverb, recorded sounds, a tambourine, flute sounds like seagulls — heavily layered and prettily orchestrated. ‘The Last Living Rose’ is decidedly more straight-forward than ‘Let England Shake’. Instrumentally, it is full of brass, drums, and reminiscence about an England long gone: ‘Goddamned Europeans / Take me back to beautiful England / And the great and filthiness of ages / And battered books / And fog rolling down behind the mountains / On the graveyards and dead sea captains.’ My favorite line of the song carries on that theme further, of a nation sold out for nothing: “Past the Thames / River glistening /Like gold, hastily sold / For nothing! / Nothing!’ It’s both criticism and love song.” Listen to “Written on the Forehead” (album version) below. Note: Photo from I-Tunes store. — David D. Robbins Jr.

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