Sello: Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Sometimes listening to PJ Harvey is like hearing the dead girl from one of those early American murder ballads rise up and start singing her side of the story. It can be an eerie experience, alternately grueling and enlightening -- but always interesting. White Chalk is what it sounds like -- dense, opaque, somehow old -- and it seems to mark you as you listen. While Harvey's primeval rage hasn't been extinguished, her caterwauling mutes to a feathery whisper, and the piano adds a hint of sweetness. She wails that "nobody's listening" on "The Piano," but you know we are, Polly.