PJ Harvey and John Parish
A Woman A Man Walked By
She’s a mysterious banshee, he’s a lo-fi genius, and together they make beautiful, if frightening, music.
PJ Harvey and her longtime collaborator John Parish met back in the’80s, when Harvey — long now one of the most ferocious and talented singer-songwriters on the indie rock scene — was just a wisp of a young woman.
Since then, their lives have been intertwined by Parish’s mark as a guitarist or co-producer on a bunch of Harvey’s albums, including 2007’s austerely poetic, piano-based White Chalk.
A Woman A Man Walked By is Harvey and Parish’s second collaborative album as a duo, and it’s just as insane, thrilling and sweeping as their first: 1996’s Dance Hall at Louse Point.
Harvey wrote the lyrics, singing behind Parish’s music.
From the driving lead single “Black Hearted Love” to the shockingly direct, gleeful title track, the album stretches across a jagged mountain of sounds, from folk to experimental rock and back.
“When you call out my name in rapture/ I volunteer my soul for murder,” Harvey intones sinfully on “Black Hearted Love” while a fuzzy guitar riff clangs in the background.
Parish can meet Harvey’s penchant for vocal theatrics with his own array of varied instruments. On “16.15.14,” he makes a banjo melody swing around Harvey’s shouts.
Harvey roams free in this environment.
She sings quietly in a melancholy high falsetto about going back to England on “Leaving California,” then turns around to growl and rage about a man with a “chicken liver heart” on the title track.
There’s no fear, or anything off-limits, for Parish and Harvey. Just how it should be.
— Solvej Schou, Associated Press