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See PJ Harvey Sing Dorset Dialect Songs in Front of NPR’s Tiny Desk

Artist performed four songs from her recent ‘I Inside the Old Year Dying’ album, as well as “White Chalk”

PJ Harvey recently treated the NPR office to four songs from this year’s I Inside the Old Year Dying, an album that found her singing in the archaic dialect of Dorset, where she grew up, as well as an occasional nod to Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender.” She sang in a cluttered corner of the radio network’s office for the 16-minute Tiny Desk Concert, supported by multi-instrumentalist James Johnston and her longtime collaborator John Parish, both of whom backed her up on lyrics like “chalky children of evermore” on “I Inside the Old I Dying.”


She played guitar while singing for “A Noiseless Noise,” as Johnston played violin and Parish sawed away at an electric guitar. She kept her acoustic on, with a capo, for “A Child’s Question, August” and “I Inside the Old Year Dying” while Parish picked up a pair of drumsticks, the image of Karol G looking over his shoulder. She kept mostly quiet between each song, other than occasionally saying thank you and introducing “White Chalk,” the title track of her 2007 album, which found her playing harmonica. Her powerful serenity seemed to disarm the audience, which often waited for her to smile to clap.

The performance follows PJ Harvey’s first U.S. performance in six years. Earlier this month, she held an event in Brooklyn where she recited poetry from her recent novel-in-verse, Orlam, sang songs from I Inside the Old Year Dying (including “Seem an I,” which she didn’t perform for the NPR concert), and participated in a Q&A. “I definitely feel it’s the best singing I’ve ever done,” she said of the album. “I think being older helps. One of the good things about aging, actually, is the voice is in a really lovely place. It’s much richer, and I can access much deeper levels with it.”

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