To Bring You My Love

PJ Harvey

Island Records, 1995

http://pjharvey.net

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/03/1997

A good producer can do wonders for an artist, especially an already exceptionally good artist. For PJ Harvey, it took super-producer Flood to make an album that fully utilized her talents. Other producers gave it a nice shot. In Utero producer Steve Albini showcased PJ Harvey raw shrills with Rid Of Me, but Flood gave PJ Harvey a true sense of direction with To Bring You My Love.

Indie purists may have bitched that To Bring You My Love was overproduced, but only on the song "Send His Love To Me" does Harvey allow the luxury of a sweeping orchestra arrangement. Besides, in PJ Harvey's case, her incredible vocal range merits a good production. Flood gives the percussion, guitars and violins on the album a resonance that's rich but never overpowers the main quality of the album: Harvey's voice.

Harvey's voice unfairly lumps her with the other top female artists of today. Harvey, along with Tori Amos, Liz Phair and Bjork are grouped together because of their genre busting albums, but each has a distinct voice that defies catagorization. Harvey is probably the hardest to categorize in the bunch. On the title track, Harvey growls with the intensity of blues great Howlin' Wolf. In "Teclo" and "Send His Love To Me", Harvey has a sound so mature, they would fit nicely on a classic Brahms recording.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In 40 short minutes, Harvey covers an entire spectrum of music. While she wades in the "deep south waters" of delta blues, she also adds her own 90s rock sense into the mix. In "Long Snake Moan", Harvey yells above a wall of amped up guitars "It's my voodoo working". In "Down By The Water," a rattlesnake percussion meances while Harvey hisses "Little fish, big fish swimming in the water/come back here man give me my daughter". Is that line a testament of motherly rage or a horrifying account of abortion? Who the hell knows. All I know is that we're far from Alanis Morrissette country here, folks.

The watery images and sounds of To Bring You My Love coincide with Harvey's wrestling with religon. In the murky title track, Harvey shuns redemption and boasts, "I've laid with the devil/cursed god above/forsaken heaven/to bring you my love". Yet in "Send His Love To Me", Harvey achingly bellows, "I'm begging Jesus please/send his love to me". That line alone has more commitment and yearning for spirituality than my entire Christian upbringing.

I'm not one to boast about any decade of music being superior to the last. Each decade produces about an equal amount of shit and classics. But with To Bring You My Love, I have to admit I'm pretty happy to be maturing in the 90s. To Bring You My Love contains all of PJ Harvey's quirkiness of her earlier albums, but it also has a fertileness that contains sediments of blues, gospel, white noise, old school rock and even a little opera thrown in for good measure.

When unrestrained, PJ Harvey can go too far. Dance Hall At Louse Point, last year's side project with John Parish, was a good example. Parish, who handled the percussion for most of the songs on To Bring You My Love, and Harvey made a somewhat decent album. It still fell far short of the range that PJ Harvey is capable of though. I can only hope that she pairs up with Flood for one more album. In the meantime, To Bring You My Love puts PJ Harvey in with the most imporant artists of today.

Rating: A

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© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.