The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Tuesday, December 05, 2000

Give Me The Gun

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: When she wants to, PJ Harvey sounds like she can change the world by sheer force of will. She is a small, graceful woman; it's as if her slight body conceals superpowers that she can use against evil. Or for good. Actually, it may be her voice that has the power -- it's amazing. Fragile and hesitant, high and light, hard and cold, sweet and loving, spiritual and soulful, bright and clear, dark and distorted, provocative and sexy. During "We Float," the final song on her recent album Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, when she shifts from monotonic spoken verses to the soaring chorus, it sounds like she's levitating herself and everyone who wants to take a chance on something new. "We float, " she sings. "Take life as it comes." That's how it ends. How it starts is something else again. With a bracing, droning rock guitar jangle, Harvey sings: "Look out ahead/ I see danger come/ I wanna pistol/ I wanna gun/ I'm scared baby/ I wanna run/ This world's crazy/ Give me the gun." Like Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde, Elvis Costello circa This Year's Model, and Patti Smith, who some people seem to think she sounds like on this album, Harvey sings with certainty about her internal life and the world around her. "The world all gone to war/ All I need is you tonight, " she sings in "One Line," which also contains the amazingly romantic lyric, "And I draw a line/ To your heart today/ 'To your heart from mine/ A line to keep us safe.' " It's hard to keep from quoting lyrics when writing about Harvey and Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea because they're so good. But flat on the screen, the words don't convey Harvey's vocal nuances in a line like "And he's the best thing/ He's the best thing/ He's the best thing/ A beautiful feeling." The way she almost whispers a word, and then lets minimal guitar notes fill the air -- just a little longer than you might expect. Or sings "And when I watch you move," and then just holds that last word. Harvey says she was writing poetry -- which she calls "a new thing" -- while writing the songs for the album. "I'm finding that writing poetry is strengthening my songwriting, because you're learning to make a piece of writing work on a page with nothing else," she told Interview magazine's Hilton Als. "I was also finding within poetry I felt a lot more free to write about very different matters, to write about social issues or things that are going on around me." ... Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology will be released by Rhino Records on February 27, 2001. The album will include one previously unreleased track, a version of "Song to the Siren" recorded live in 1967 on the set of The Monkees TV show for Episode 58, "Mijacogeo (The Frodis Caper)." The late Tim Buckley is, of course, the famed, influential '60s singer/songwriter (and father to the late Jeff Buckley). Over the course of his short career, Buckley moved from fairly traditional folk music to a highly experimental jazz-rock. The two-CD set features 34 songs, including such classics as "Pleasant Street," "No Man Can Find the War," and "Morning Glory."

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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