A brand new Polly Jean Harvey album after 7 years. What is she up to this time? I am certainly no PJ expert. I have seen her live once at Roskilde Festival  many years ago, around the "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea"  album. It was a rock/pop album that got her a lot of attention, but I didn't really like it. Her singing voice annoyed me on that album. The concert was fine though, and I loved the "Henry Lee" duet she did with Nick Cave on his "Murder Ballads"  album.
In recent years my attention was brought to her brilliant album "Let England Shake"  by my concert buddy C. It is a fantastic album and musically it is not too far from her new album. With that information revealed, it is no surprise that I really like her new album "I Inside The Old Year Dying".
The new album is a complicated thing to understand lyrically. It was inspired by her epic poem "Orlam". Something I haven't read and probably never will. The lyrics are written in a born-Dorset dialect with references to Elvis and "Love Me Tender", Biblical references, and other litterature. Each song has a reference to a month or a date, and each song has translations of words in dialect written below it. I'll admit it, I've given up. I just focus on the music itself.
"Are you Elvis? Are you God?
Jesus sent to win my trust?
Love Me Tender are his words,
As I have loved you, so you must..."
The album has a very sparse and minimalistic instrumentation. Most of it is acoustic with the few more noisy electric exceptions. There is however a lot of variation and it is not all super quiet. Just don't expect anything with a rock or pop beat. That's not what this is about. It's super atmospheric, it's dream-like, and it paints pictures for your imagination.
There is no point in highlighting specific songs. The album shouldn't be split. Just listen to the album from beginning to end and go with the flow. It is worth it. I have listened to it countless times and I still love it.
"Hail the hedge as it grows
Ask the hedge all it knows"
I wonder what PJ has in store for us on her upcoming tour? Time will tell. I've got a ticket for one of her two October gigs in Copenhagen.