thu 02/02/2023

CD: PJ Harvey - All About Eve (Original Music) | reviews, news & interviews

CD: PJ Harvey - All About Eve (Original Music)

CD: PJ Harvey - All About Eve (Original Music)

Moody soundscapes from West End play

Lily James and Gillian Anderson, stars of the stage version of All About Eve

PJ Harvey is not just a consummate rock musician but a multi-talented artist, who has re-invented herself throughout her career. She paints and makes sculpture, has participated with Artangel in an ambitious art installation, and written and performed theatre and film music.

The music for the stage version of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s classic Hollywood blockbuster and Betty Davis vehicle All About Eve is the latest of her accomplishments.

The exciting Belgian director Ivo Van Hove made a shrewd choice, as Harvey has shown herself to be expert at evoking the inner turmoil of women in conflict –  the theme of All About Eve – not least with her very strong score for Ian Rickson’s version of Sophocles’s Electra in 2014. Soundtrack albums are, with a few exceptions, just that - not designed to stand on their own. This applies here and there is clearly a dimension missing, unless you happen to have seen the production on stage.

PJ Harvey leads on production and is joined by drummer Kenrick Rowe and guitarist / keyboard player James Johnston, both members of her most recent touring band. The arrangements are very good, and this is a much more interesting soundtrack than many of the mostly electronic mood pieces that seem to have replaced the bombast of Hans Zimmer or Max Richter in recent years. Guitars are used to produced swathes of sound rather than plucked, picked or strummed as they were designed to be. Harvey has drawn inspiration from Liszt's deeply emotional "Liebesträume", which featured in the original movie. There are moments reminiscent of Fripp and Eno’s classic No Pussyfooting, and others simply beautiful slices of gently evolving atmospheres, suggesting the psychological shifts of the characters on the stage.

Gillian Anderson and Lily James, who star in the stage play, both contribute vocals to new songs written by Harvey, "The Sandman" and "The Moth" She has created just the right setting for much gentler voices than her own, once again proving herself capable of versatility, originality and invention.

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