PJ Harvey - The Piano

Emily Tartanella 29/11/2007

Rating: 4/5

P.J.Harvey has built her career by being a force of dangerous energy, walking the line between breakdown, break-up, and brilliance. After being named the greatest woman in rock by Q magazine and accumulating more accolades than Michael Caine has film credits, she could essentially rest on her laurels. But, as usual, she refuses to, delivering a mournful single that's as painful as it is fragile.

This latest track, off of the excellent White Chalk, strips away the sex and the gruffness of her classic sound, turning to a quiet melancholy. Repeating blankly “Oh God, I miss you,” Harvey seems to come apart as she sings back the record of a relationship gone sour. It may not be one of her strongest or most aggressive moments, but it's certainly one of her most chilling.

The video features a haunting series of collages, where snippets of illicit, blacked-out photographs rearrange to form words, hearts, collages that are both witty and disturbing. It's utterly ironic, though, because PJ Harvey has never been a collage - unlike so many artists today, she is fully unique. Her sound doesn't filch from what's new, or hip, and even if it sounds familiar, that's only because she's become so iconic. The Kills or Cat Power might've borrowed her aesthetics, but they'll never have her soul. Or her willingness to challenge herself.