PJ Harvey will release a new album called I Inside the Old Year Dying on 7 July through Partisan. It is her first LP since 2017 and features songs that “all came out of me in about three weeks” according to Harvey. It was produced alongside long-time collaborators John Parish and Flood.
That cryptic and foreboding feeling of the album title I Inside the Old Year Dying carries over into the first song shared from it, “A Child’s Question, August”. As the instrumentation ambles on dusty waves of strummed guitar, shuffling percussion and whispering synths, Harvey sings symbolically of birds all around: “Starling swarms will soon be lorn / Rooks tell stories ’cross the corn.” It seems to be symbolism of a grief she’s working through, which becomes clearer in the second verse: “Hear the grinding wheel-bird grieve / Grief unknits my ravelled sleeve”. What is clear is her need for love as protection, as she humbly repeats a refrain “love me tender, tender love” throughout. At under three minutes, “A Child’s Question, August” might at first seem scant reward for our years of waiting, but there is already much more to unpack than immediately meets the eye and the ear.