PJ Harvey & John Parish

Saturday

SXSW Records

PJ Harvey & John Parish

A Woman a Man Walked By (Island)

On their first collaboration, 1996's Dance Hall at Louse Point, PJ Harvey wrote the lyrics, John Parish the music, and it felt like a respite from Harvey's heavy-duty mid-1990s releases. She returns from 2007's haunting White Chalk with the longtime producer/multi-instrumentalist for another roll in the hay, 10 songs he again wrote the music for and for which she provides narration. Guitar-driven opener "Black Hearted Love" recalls the polish of Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, and it's one of Harvey's most accessible songs in years. Toward the end lands sublime breakup scorcher "Passionless, Pointless." In between, Harvey sizes up a man's "chicken liver balls" with the barked ferocity of old flame Nick Cave, only the song goes limp under her growls. Same goes for the uncomfortable screech of "Pig Will Not." Softer songs, such as ukulele solo "The Soldier," where Harvey sings in the higher octave that dominated White Chalk, and "April," on which she almost sounds like Prince without the come-hither, fill out A Woman. After two decades of creative partnership, she and Parish no doubt know what the other is thinking, but it also feels like a mishmash of sounds from over her whole career, a flood after the stillness of White Chalk. (Sat., Stubb's, 10pm.)

**.5

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