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Baker's Dozen

A Woman, A Man: John Parish's Favourite PJ Harvey Recordings
Jennifer Lucy Allan , February 3rd, 2021 08:42

As PJ Harvey continues a major series of vinyl reissues of her incredible discography, her long-time collaborator and friend John Parish guides Jennifer Lucy Allan through his favourite 13 of her recordings


‘The Soldier’ (From A Woman A Man Walked By)
I’ve noticed on Polly’s albums there is often one song that gives a hint to where she’s headed. This song is a clear pointer to Let England Shake. Obviously lyrically because it's about a soldier, but also the directness. That mixture of the guilt, horror and helplessness of war she dealt with so brilliantly was all hinted at – or stated even – in this song.

I really felt it was an outlier [on the album]. Lyrically it was very different – the rest of the songs were much more abstract – she was really using it as an opportunity to experiment with different directions whereas this was very much about a very specific thing and a very specific feeling. I loved the fact there was a huge emotional weight to the lyric in what was quite a light, eerie-sounding song.