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Hear PJ Harvey Reframe ‘Love Me Tender’ in New Song ‘A Child’s Question, August’

PJ Harvey is set to release her first album since 2106, I Inside the Old Year Dying — and she’s previewing it today with a somber track she’s titled, “A Child’s Question, August.” Although she quotes the King of Rock & Roll on the tune — “Love me tender, tender love” — the song revisits the folkish sound of her 2010 album, Let England Shake, with its easy tempo, sparse instrumentation, and Harvey’s soprano singing about rooks, corn, and cuckoos. She’ll reveal the full context of the song when she releases the album, which her longtime collaborators Flood and John Parish produced, on July 7.

“I think the album is about searching, looking — the intensity of first love, and seeking meaning,” Harvey said in a statement. “Not that there has to be a message, but the feeling I get from the record is one of love — it’s tinged with sadness and loss, but it’s loving. I think that’s what makes it feel so welcoming: so open.”

Since the release of her last album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, Harvey helped write the soundtrack for Bad Sisters and authored the novel in verse, Orlam. The latter, she says, played a role in the inspiration behind I Inside the Old Year Dying. Another key moment for her was meeting filmmaker Steve McQueen, who suggested she focus on her love of words, images, and music as elements rather than writing “an album.” Subsequently, the LP’s songs came to her in about three weeks. She recorded it with her longtime collaborators, producers Flood and John Parish, at London’s Battery Studios.

Harvey told Rolling Stone last year a little bit about the process of making I Inside the Old Year Dying. “This last album I’ve just done, I literally sang in the phone; I didn’t even demo it because I didn’t want to get attached to the demo versions,” she said. “But then I felt like I’d missed out on an important part of the process, so it made me want to start doing that again.”

In the same interview, she also discussed her love of Elvis Presley. Like Harvey in “A Child’s Question, August,” one of the characters in Orlam, named Wyman-Elvis, sings “Love Me Tender.” “I loved Elvis, as a lot of children of my era did, and I still love Elvis,” she said. “I love everything about him. I could lose myself in that voice, but not only that, the way he looked as well. He is almost a godlike figure in Orlam. … I do meditate on Elvis songs to myself. I very often play his work at the piano.”


I Inside the Old Year Dying track list:

1. “Prayer at the Gate”
2. “Autumn Term”
3. “Lwonesome Tonight”
4. “Seem an I”
5. “The Nether-edge”
6. “I Inside the Old Year Dying”
7. “All Souls”
8. “A Child’s Question, August”
9. “I Inside the Old I Dying”
10. “August”
11. “A Child’s Question, July “
12. “A Noiseless Noise”

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