Single Review: PJ Harvey & Harry Escott - ''An Acre of Land'

Who’d have thought back in the 90’s that PJ Harvey would be a musical chameleon? Sure, she sang on a couple of Nick Cave tracks but she was loud, brash, sexy and completely uncompromising. Now, she only remains uncompromising- but she doesn’t need the noise to stay aggressive. There’s an underlying sense of discomfort in this folk song written with composer Harry Escott for upcoming British drama Black River, featuring Ned Stark. I mean, Sean Bean.

The song doesn’t really move from it’s general theme for it’s six minutes but don’t let that put you off. The sheer intricacy of it’s arrangement means that on every listen you get something different. Lyrically, it centres on the theme of the film- a woman comes back to the ancestral home of her family only to find that someone else has claimed the land. The minimalism of the lyrics reflects the Britishness of such a situation and the fact that it hardly strays from that theme adds to it’s foreboding nature. And of course throughout you get PJ’s ethereal voice treating you as if all your birthdays have come at once. There’s still traces of her nineties anger shoved right at the back of the mix, but despite Harvey’s voice the real star of the show here is the beautiful orchestration Escott has arranged.

A finger picked guitar builds throughout, with other assorted strings played pizzicato around it- enhancing the guitar, but never overbearing it. The song never reaches a crescendo as such, but it’s the kind of thing you’d almost want to play throughout the entire film rather than acting as it’s mere theme tune. It reflects the upcoming sense of drama remarkably and rather than building the anticipation for more PJ Harvey songs, it makes you itch for the film to come out as soon as possible. And that’s exactly what it should be.

Words by James Kitchen