A Woman a Man Walked By

by Jacquelyn Lewis

PJ Harvey and John Parish collaborate again on a raw and confrontational album.

Unlike their first go-round in ’96, with the celebrated Dance Hall at Louse Point, PJ Harvey and John Parish’s bold new collaborative effort, A Woman a Man Walked By, may not draw in casual listeners–most of these narrative songs are shockingly raw and often confrontational in their bursts of beauty and fatalism. Lead track ‘Black-Hearted Love,’ reminiscent of mid-’90s Sonic Youth, provides an access point into an album that is, typical of most anything associated with Pj Harvey’s velvet-for-flesh aesthetic, impossible to ignore or imitate. Parish’s stamp is apparent in the stripped-down, East-meets-West stringed instruments that anchor most of the arrangements. ‘Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen’ is driven by a box-spring sitar; ‘Cracks in the Canvas’ features an eerily amorphous Nashville-via-Nanking mandolin. Whether unleashing a profanity-leaden tirade in a mocking growl that is both hilarious and disturbing on the title track, or voicing the most memorable barks heard on a rock record since Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush on ‘Pig Will Not,’ Harvey’s voice is a flexible bullet. Even the sweetly pastoral ‘Passionless, Pointless,’ bouyed by swelling strings evocative of a lost ’50s soundtrack, conveys emotional urgency and, like the rest of the album, is ultimately as envious of objectivity as heartbreak itself.

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.