Album Title: A Woman A Man Walked By
Performers: PJ Harvey, John Parish
Label: Island
Play Time:
Recorded: 2008

Those hoping that Polly Jean Harvey would one day return to the rocking shock waves of her early career (Dry, Rid of Me, "50 Ft. Queenie") will have to wait. Meantime, A Woman A Man Walked By has its peculiar charms. Simply put, it's weird!

Collaborator John Parish returns 12 years after he and Polly's last joint effort, Dance Hall At Louse Point. Thankfully, A Woman is a better record. Parrish contributes the music, Harvey the lyrics and thunder/caterwaul vocals.

Opener "Black Hearted Love" features an ear-ripping guitar riff that wouldn't have been out of place on 1993's Rid Of Me, with PJ spinning ethereal lyrics about lying in wait beneath her lover's window, for ill or good we know not. She goes terminal on the country jig "16.15.14", bellowing the name 'Erika' like exorcism is imminent. "The Chair" resurrects the mad rhythmic stew of Rid of Me and Dry with hypnotic loops and brazen guitar while Harvey vocalizes with a soul-searing intensity. Ghostly sounds weave in and out of the arrangement as Harvey floats above like the grim reaper. Then it's back to the psycho ward as Harvey channels her inner old lady on the dirge-like "April". The title track finds her uttering in multiple voices about "chicken liver spleens" and "lily livered little parts" (later shouting "I want your fucking ass!"), all the confirmation one needs that PJ Harvey remains a danger to herself and most likely to others. Enter at your own risk.