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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 92 reviews
on October 1, 2013
I really like - no, love - PJ Harvey's work because she defies expectations and is original and thoughtful, and I appreciate her sense of humor. White Chalk is definitely, I think, one of her best albums. It's a bit of a puzzle, though. On first listening to it, I felt very dislocated; I can't think of any other albums I've listened to that are remotely like it, and it's very different from her other albums, although it incorporates many themes she's explored before. I sense something of the cold Dorset coast on a foggy day, the stifling weight of time, the burden of love and loss, of mortality and consciousness. The music seems to me to transcend the normal dimensions of time and space to arrive at somewhere that feels universal. In a way the songs seem so haunted and delicate that they might break, but at the same time as enduring and ancient as the cliffs of Dover. I find myself drawn back to this album again and again, because I can't really define it well enough, or define my reaction to it well enough, but listening to it feels almost like a religious experience for me, as if the album has tapped into a deep vein of consciousness floating somewhere just out of reach....
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on January 23, 2009
*****Follow these simple directions to get the most out of PJ Harvey's works of art.

Unwrap your CD.
Find a quiet peaceful relaxing place to be while you listen.
Plug in good headphones.
Close your eyes.
Press 'play'
Not in any particular order now..
Dance, hum, whistle, sway, breathe, laugh, cry, moan, giggle, skip, dream, ponder, wonder, question life, pinch yourself to make sure you're still here, think about the last one that got away, and the one you're with now, and the one you wish you met but never did. Think about your life as it is, and how you want it to be tomorrow.
When the disc ends, shut off the player.
Put the CD neatly back into the holder.

You'll never be the same again.
That's how Polly's music can effect you if you let it.
Give this one a chance. It's slower, more thought provoking no doubt, but none the less compelling, raw and delicate.
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on December 27, 2012
One night I couldn't sleep at all, so I made some tea and put on the tv, hoping to get sleepy soon. But then I zapped to a channel which was showing this fragile looking girl, sensitive and soft, not this rock chick I had known before. And I stopped zapping ...

What I heard was Grow Grow Grow, and boy did it get me hooked. It was minimalistic, high-pitched and enough to forget any notion of wanting to sleep. The rest of the album sounds similarly like from heaven, but talks about topics deep out of the abyss. Very emotional and personal, PJ allows us very close, almost to a point it becomes uncomfortable, but if you open your mind to it, you're in for a treat.

Obviously Grow Grow Grow was a first favorite, then that moved to the title song White Chalk. Now the song I put on multiple repeats, is The Mountain. Silence also follows closely behind it.

All the other songs are still great, I sometimes skip The Piano and Before Departure, but I don't mind them enough to not give anything other than 5 out of 5.

Thank you PJ for letting us into your life.
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on August 9, 2009
I hated this the first time I heard it (actually the first year of trying to listen to it again and again). I just listened to it in line with all all of her other CD's, it's a very grown up PJ. I once described PJ to a friend as either depressed or really, really depressed. Her music generally sounds a certain way when she's really really depressed She's generally angry and wants to kill something or wants you to kill her (since you already have emotionallY), or perhaps she wants you to just kill yourself, or somehow the devil is involved, but always the great synchopated rhythms and base. When she's in a good mood, well something might also die, but she's more up beat about it, she wants to hang in a garden, or just watch you undress (hey I can get behind that), and there's always the great rhythms and base.

Well this is none of those things, it's ethereal, and as if she is looking inward to see, perhaps if she caused some of these problems herself. Well now I'd say that's a grown up approach. Don't expect to be uplifted, don't expect for it to be catchy. Don't even expect to exactly understand it, but in the context of listening to her other CDs, it is remarkably satisfying. It completes the thought, and so now we have a picture of why she's so angry sometimes, or why she's wearing the H311 out of that dress, why Stella Marie is her star, why she sees her beauty in your eyes in China Town, why the devil is driving her down, why she's going to withstand that Monsoon. It all makes sense. Maybe it's got it's Tori Amos moments, but I like her to too in small doses.

So I think I'm just a fangirl, but still compared to all of the other crap music, this is really very good, and says something a little different. Although there is no way I would just put this on thinking, I'm going to enjoy a little background music. This is modern Joni Mitchell.
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on May 26, 2016
PJ Harvey is a brave and unique voice in popular music. She's intelligent and diverse in her albums, describes herself as a journalist/song writer, at least recently (Let England Shake, Hope Six Demolition Project) and I respect that greatly. White Chalk is rather spare and ghostly with mostly voice and piano, different from much of the rocking songs on previous albums. A bit like Kate Bush in her quieter moments, but just a bit.
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on November 9, 2014
I have everything she's recorded, and this is my favorite. It's a departure from what she had done up to that point in her career. I've heard she learned piano just to make this album. There's a haunted mansion feel all over these songs. PJ's voice is lovely throughout. One of those rare works that is great from the first track to the last. Essential!
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on November 18, 2015
This is yet another perfect album. She can't do wrong and again every song is amazing. This album to me sounds like something Nick Cave would have put together. Very dark, very dark. Piano heavy, just brilliant. Everyone should own this album. This is one of my favorite albums of hers and I have them all.
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on April 21, 2008
For those who know PJ Harvey since her first gigs, this is obviously a return to form. Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea was atrocious, and Uh uh Her was non-descript. PJ Harvey knows how to suffer successfully and how to metabolize pain into song. Judging from this album, she probably won't get to write the next one. There are hints of apathy and despair everywhere, and they are heartbreaking. Loneliness has been the dominant theme of Harvey's songs, and here it's in the foreground. Escaping from it with drugs, longing for the dead who can't talk to us, the sorrow of unrequited love: it's all here. The songs have no guitar and minimal drums. A lot of minor chords played on a vertical piano, with interesting passages. All is kept simple, and brimming with tension. There are a few arrangements that would have been unthinkable 12 years ago. The Piano shows the influence of Radiohead; elsewhere you can hear a banjo and a harp (Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom). But everything is unmistakably original. One of the best musical outliers of recent music.
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on June 13, 2017
Excellent album, one of her best.
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on July 19, 2008
and her soft little girly voice, I say HUH? Ive never heard her before, but her previous cover art conveys a hardened, street wise woman

Her songs and mannerisms here rip those preconceptions to sheds.
"I freed myself from my family, ive freed myself from work-ive freed myself - ive freed myself-and am now Im alone..."
One of the best lines in the song. being from the piece
SILENCE, also one of the best songs on the album:
What gets me is the anguished, haunting verses that convey going out into empty darkness.....
which end the piece...

It awakens something hidden inside, a memory, that I cant quite bring to the surface as a child, something which I cannot explain

The song is worth the price of the album alone
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