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White Chalk is a 2007 album by PJ Harvey, the seventh in her catalogue. It marked a remarkable change in sound, having her move away from rock into Folk Music and chamber music with more emphasis on piano music.

Tracklist:

  1. "The Devil" (2:55)
  2. "Dear Darkness" (3:09)
  3. "Grow Grow Grow" (3:21)
  4. "When Under Ether" (2:22)
  5. "White Chalk" (3:06)
  6. "Broken Harp" (1:57)
  7. "Silence" (3:05)
  8. "To Talk to You" (4:00)
  9. "The Piano" (2:36)
  10. "Before Departure" (3:45)
  11. "The Mountain" (3:10)


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When Under Troper:

  • A Cappella: "Broken Harp" starts off with just Harvey singing, then the instruments come in.
  • Alliterative Title: "Dear Darkness" and "Grow Grow Grow".
  • Body Horror: "The Piano"
    Hit her with a hammer
    Teeth smashed in
    Red tongue twitching
    Look inside her skeleton
  • Broken Record: "The Piano"
    Nobody's listening
    Oh God, I miss you.
  • Careful with That Axe: P.J.'s wailing near the end of "The Mountain".
  • Cold Open: "White Chalk".
  • Coming-of-Age Story: "Grow Grow Grow:"
    Teach me, Mommy
    How to grow
    How to catch someone's fancy
    Underneath the twisted oak grove
  • Demonic Possession: "The Devil:"
    As soon as I'm left alone
    The devil wanders into my soul.
  • Face on the Cover: PJ in a white dress, looking straight into the camera.
  • Folk Music: The music is closer to English folk than anything else.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: "When Under Ether" has been interpreted as being about a woman preparing for abortion, though Harvey herself hasn't given an explanation of the lyrics. Indeed, the lyrics are far more ambiguous.
    Something's inside me
    Unborn and unblessed
    Disappears in the ether
    This world to the next
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  • Grief Song: "To Talk to You" is about the loss of her grandmother.
  • I Am Very British: This album is the first album where PJ goes to her English roots. "White Chalk" refers to the white chalk cliffs in the beach side of South England. Her use of traditional British folk and chamber music only adds to the Britishness.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: "Silence:"
    I freed myself from my family
    I freed myself from work
    I freed myself
    I freed myself and remained alone
  • Let's Duet: "Dear Darkness" has a male singer join in.
  • Location Song: "White Chalk" is about the white chalk cliffs on the beach side of South England. The song specifically mentions Dorset.
    Dorset's cliffs meet at the sea
    Where I walked
    (our unborn child in me)
    White chalk
    (Poor scattered land)
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Many songs are accompanied by piano, which is all the more amazing seeing that PJ had no experience playing, left alone writing for this instrument.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: While the music is very pleasant to listen to, the lyrics talk about far more darker themes, like demonic lovers, ghosts, and death.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Broken Harp" is less than two minutes long.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: "The Mountain:"
    The first tree will not blossom
    The second will not grow
    The third is almost fallen
    Since you betrayed me so
  • New Sound Album: This is the first non-rock album in Harvey's repertoire. Piano, zither, acoustic guitar, optigan, cigfiddle, concertina, mellotron and minimoog are very prominent and bring its genre closer to Folk Music. She also sings in a much higher voice.
  • One-Word Title: "Silence."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "To Talk to You" about her then recently deceased grandmother.
    Oh grandmother
    How I miss you
    Under the earth
    Wish I was with you
  • Record Producer: Flood, John Parish, and PJ Harvey.
  • Rule of Three: "The Mountain:"
    The first tree will not blossom
    The second will not grow
    The third is almost fallen
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Harvey does this during "To Talk to You."
  • Special Guest: Eric Drew Feldman (former Captain Beefheart member) plays piano, keyboards, optigan, mellotron, minimoog and backing vocals and Jim White (Dirty Three) performs drums and percussion.
  • Suicide: "Before Departure," seems to be a farewell song to PJ's friends and she specifically sings: "Farewell this world."
  • Title Track: "White Chalk:"
    White chalk hills are all I've known
  • Unrequited Love: "Silence."
    And in my thinking steal you away
    Though you never wanted me anyway

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