Home Music PJ Harvey’s newest album unfolds out of an epic narrative poem : NPR

PJ Harvey’s newest album unfolds out of an epic narrative poem : NPR

PJ Harvey’s newest album unfolds out of an epic narrative poem : NPR


PJ Harvey’s new album, I Inside The Outdated Yr Dying, builds off of a story poem she wrote a few 12 months within the lifetime of a 9-year-old lady in a fictional city in western England.


For PJ Harvey, phrases, music and pictures all come from the identical artistic wellspring.

P J HARVEY: Within the early levels of writing a tune, I fairly often see it in pictures and colours. And if I am a bit caught on a poem and I am unable to work out the place it is going, I will typically spend time drawing it.

KELLY: Harvey is greatest often called a singer-songwriter. She first broke out within the early ’90s with hits like “Rid Of Me” and “Costume.”


HARVEY: (Singing) Placed on that gown. I am going out dancing.

KELLY: Together with the songs, she has all the time written poetry and created visible artwork, too.

HARVEY: I believe after I was youthful, I used to try to hold them separate, of their separate classes. However as I’ve bought older, it is turn out to be increasingly more pure for me that all of them simply kind of bleed collectively.

KELLY: Her newest challenge bleeds collectively these components intricately. Final 12 months, she revealed a story poem referred to as “Orlam,” a vivid work of magical realism, which has now developed into a brand new album referred to as “I Inside The Outdated Yr Dying.”


HARVEY: (Singing) Drush repeats ‘enself, over underwhelem.

I solely got down to write a set of poetry, however this work sort of morphed into drawings after which into music as effectively.

KELLY: NPR’s Ann Powers sat down with Harvey to listen to extra concerning the album, which is out now.

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: Are you able to clarify the story and the world of “Orlam” and the brand new album for individuals who may not have but had the pleasure of getting into them?

HARVEY: The guide “Orlam” is my second assortment of poetry. It took me eight years to put in writing. It is mainly a 12 months within the lifetime of a 9-year-old in a rural a part of the west of England, and it paperwork her 12 months, month by month, paying explicit consideration to what’s taking place within the pure world round her. It is playful in its creativeness, I’d say. It is a combination of seriousness and humor and Dorset dialect, which provides one other layer to the that means of all the things.


HARVEY: (Singing) Hark the greening of the earth.

POWERS: I’m wondering the way you first made the choice to make use of the Dorset dialect. After which how did you – as they are saying in probably the most corny manner, how did you make it your personal?

HARVEY: One of many poems I wrote early on had been leaning into a few of the phrases I would remembered from being a baby. I imply, I keep in mind the elders within the village utilizing a few of these phrases, they usually’re nonetheless used to this present day in rural elements of England and Wales and Scotland. , there’s a whole lot of dialect nonetheless working by way of folks, and it is valuable. And, you recognize, I used to be simply so fascinated in it as a result of it nonetheless felt alive inside me. I believe, you recognize, at some stage, I kind of knew the phrases anyway. However they’ve additionally bought this guttural sonic high quality that you just kind of perceive the phrase, even should you do not in a complete manner. You are feeling it.


HARVEY: (Singing) Beech and aller, woak and birch, biddle, bull-head, squirrel’s drey.

POWERS: One other artist may need turned to, you recognize, identifiable people sounds for this album, you recognize, with its rural setting, its connection to previous tales. You didn’t. I imply, it is a PJ Harvey document. It is recognizable fully as a part of your numerous however unified physique of labor. However I’m wondering should you had been fascinated with people traditions in any respect as you had been creating the music along with your collaborators.

HARVEY: I very a lot needed to keep away from tipping into predictable people music, which these phrases and this subject material would have lent itself to so effectively. So I went the other way. And it was very arduous factor to do. So typically we might jettison a sound as a result of it was too acquainted to us. However I actually really feel that we pushed ourselves into fairly new locations. And positively, I believe with my singing, I really feel like I have never sung in the best way that I’ve sung earlier than fairly like I do on this document.


HARVEY: (Singing) As childhood died the previous 12 months, made the soldier reappear.

POWERS: I actually needed to ask you concerning the incorporation of area recordings, discovered sounds, distorted components to construct the world.

HARVEY: Yeah. I – after I was at first considering that I’d put “Orlam” on stage, I started to simply acquire area recordings, recording them myself. However then additionally as a result of I’ve labored within the theatre world loads, I had a whole lot of nice sound designer buddies. And sound designers for theater have nearly any sound you may consider at their fingertips, which is only a kind of library of sounds that are open for sound designers to make use of. After which when it changed into a musical album somewhat than a theater piece, I felt like I nonetheless needed to make use of those pure noises.

However in the identical manner that I needed to keep away from utilizing a stereotypical people sound, I needed to keep away from these pure sounds as being stereotypical nature noises. And so we fed them by way of a number of very primary analog gear, which results in this stunning kind of world that you just enter as a result of all the things was recorded in the identical room collectively. So you’re feeling such as you stepped into a selected world of sound as a result of all the sounds are taking place each single microphone, if that is smart.


POWERS: I do know that you just had been at one thing of a disaster level about making music once you began on this album. You’ve got mentioned that music had misplaced its major maintain on you. Did that feeling of music as the middle return, or do you’re feeling that you’re simply, you recognize, extra holistically artistic? And do you suppose that is extra doable in the present day for artists, for artists to not essentially determine as one factor as possibly it was, you recognize, earlier than the varied leisure industries took over? Is it extra doable to easily be a maker?

HARVEY: I believe endlessly, artists have been doing this – many issues on the identical time. For me, I briefly felt that I had misplaced my connection to music. After which by way of this journey, by way of writing “Orlam,” by way of spending years doing that alone, I kind of rekindled my love of all the things and took away all these boundaries. And now I really feel, like, extra filled with pleasure and that something is feasible once more than I’ve felt in completely years.


KELLY: That was PJ Harvey speaking with NPR’s Ann Powers about her new album, “I Inside The Outdated Yr Dying.” You possibly can hear an prolonged model of their dialog on NPR’s podcast All Songs Thought-about.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional info.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content will not be in its last type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability could differ. The authoritative document of NPR’s programming is the audio document.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here