Album: PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman A Man Walked By (Island)

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The Independent Culture

It's more than 12 years since PJ Harvey and John Parish released Dance Hall at Louse Point, and while A Woman A Man Walked By constitutes an improvement of sorts, few will be disappointed if their ongoing alliance suffers another hiatus of similar duration.

As before, Parish supplies the musical arrangements and Harvey the words, in that order – a division of labour which sometimes makes for an uncomfortable fit, as with "The Chair", a frantic, piano-led piece about drowning, and "Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen", about playing hide-and-seek, in which the opening banjo strums are bulked out with organ as the search gets more frantic. Both these songs' lyrics were written to fit pre-existing titles, as was the title-track, a vituperative rant about some "lily-livered" man which quickly escalates from sullen muttering to full-blown screaming and swearing, before giving way to a second, instrumental part ("The Crow Knows Where All The Little Children Go") whose shuffle-groove comes as a welcome relief after Harvey's hysterics. "Leaving California" is a more straightforward expression of displacement, but elsewhere the concerns are barely worth bothering with.

Download this: 'Black Hearted Love', 'A Man A Woman Walked By/The Crow Knows Where All The Little Children Go', 'Leaving California'

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