I Inside the Old Year Dying is PJ Harvey’s tenth album, and her first in seven years. Throughout her career, she has always ensured that each phase of her progress has taken her somewhere new, but her latest music is audacious and original even by her own standards. Full of a sense of a cyclical return to new beginnings, it combines its creative daring with a sense of being open and inviting, in the most fascinating way. The new songs, Harvey says, offer “a resting space, a solace, a comfort, a balm - which feels timely for the times we’re in.”
The record’s story goes back six years, to the end of touring around The Hope Six Demolition Project in 2017, and how Harvey felt immediately afterwards. “I was quite lost,” she says. “I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do: if I wanted to carry on writing albums and playing, or if it was time for a change in my life - ‘OK, I've done this for a long time. Do I want to carry on for the remainder of my life doing the same thing?’”
What she keenly felt was that somewhere in the endless cycle of albums and tours, she had lost her connection with music itself, a realisation that was troubling beyond words. “I can't express how heartbroken I felt. It had always been my everything; my way of understanding.”
This was hardly a time of creative withdrawal: thanks to mentoring by the Scottish poet Don Paterson, she worked on Orlam, the accomplished work of poetry – her second, after 2015’s The Hollow of the Hand - that was published last year, and which became one of the new album’s key inspirations. There were also the reissues of Harvey’s preceding albums – and, in new editions, their demo versions – that came out between 2020 and 2022. But eventually, two things began to push her in the direction of new songs, music and sounds.
One was the memory of a meeting with the artist and film-maker Steve McQueen, in Chicago, during the Hope Six period. “He said, ‘Polly, you have to stop thinking about music like it's all albums of songs. You've got to think about what you love. You love words, you love images and you love music. And you’ve got to think, What can I do with those three things?’”
The other catalyst for a return to music was simple: the sheer act of playing it. “As a way of trying to heal myself - and I can't think of a better word to use - I would go to the piano or the guitar and play my favourite songs by other people: a lot of Nina Simone's songs, or “What A Wonderful World” - which would bring me to tears as I was playing them - or [The Mamas and The Papas’] “California Dreamin’,” or “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers. And I would just realise: ‘No, it's still there; I still love this so much that it's like it keeps me alive.’”
Something soon started to cohere. When Harvey began to write new songs, there was a liberating sense of making music for its own sake, rather than the first steps back into the album-tour-album-tour cycle. She drew on the sense of creative freedom she had felt in past musical work on soundtracks, and in the theatre. At the same time, her perspective was shifting, away from the big themes of Let England Shake and Hope Six (“looking out, at war, politics, the world”), towards something more intimate and human. “I instinctively needed a change of scale,” she says. “There was a real yearning in me to change it back to something really small – so it comes down to one person, one wood, a village.”
The new songs, Harvey says, “all came out of me in about three weeks”. But that was only the beginning. The key to what would happen next – at Battery Studios, in North West London - lay in a three-way creative bond that now goes back nearly thirty years, between Harvey, her enduring collaborator and creative partner John Parish, and Flood: nominally a producer, though that word does not really do him justice.
“This record sounds like it does because of our relationship, and the fact we've worked together for so many years,” she says. “The three of us come together and we all want the same thing – to challenge ourselves and not repeat ourselves.” This attitude has run through all their work, but this time it was hardened into an explicit mission: to avoid anything reminiscent of their musical past.
Achieving this, she says, required a kind of creative letting-go. “When I was younger, I felt such a need to try and stay in control of the music,” she says. “And as I've got older, that seems far less important than seeing what can be created in that moment, in that room with those people, if you just let yourself be open.
“The studio was set up for live play, and that's all we did,” she says. The importance of this is hard to overstate: if I Inside the Old Year Dying is a very tactile, human record, that is partly because just about everything on it is rooted in improvisation: spontaneous performances and ideas, recorded at the moment of their creation.
There is another revelation: Harvey’s voice, and what she felt able to do with it. “I don't feel I've ever sung as well as I've sung on this record,” she says. “Again, I think that comes from being a bit older. It also comes from my absolute trust in Flood and John and allowing them to put me in situations that weren't comfortable. Any time I seemed to be singing in what they would call my PJ Harvey voice, it was vetoed.
“I remember with “Prayer at the Gate,” Flood was encouraging me to sing like I was much older than I am, and to have something desperate in my voice. I don’t even recognise myself. On “All Souls,” I don't think I've ever sung in such a low and restrained way. I Inside the Old I Dying is another one. I was standing in the vocal room with the headphones on, and Flood said ‘No, no – you sound like PJ Harvey.’” She ended up recording the vocal with her eyes closed, unaware of where the microphone was: “Flood would just experiment all the time like that, to find the thing he wanted.”
There is one other crucial aspect of the album: an abundance of field recordings and material from audio libraries, woven into Flood’s surreal reshaping of sounds made on standard instruments. This is what gives I Inside the Old Year Dying the sense of music somehow located in a space between life’s opposites, something also embodied by Wyman-Elvis, a Christ-like presence in some of the songs who symbolises the thin line between life and death – and, for that matter, between recent history and the ancient past.
In the album’s liminal world, scattered with biblical imagery and references to Shakespeare, all these distinctions dissolve. “I'm somewhere where I've not been before,” Harvey says. “What's above, what's below, what’s old, what’s new, what's night, what's day? It's all the same, really – and you can enter it and get lost. And that's what I wanted to do with the record, with the songs, with the sound, with everything.”
This is a big part of the album’s magic. In all those shadows and ambiguities, there is something profoundly uplifting and redemptive, qualities exemplified by the record’s lead-off single, “A Child’s Question, August.” “I think the album is about searching, looking - the intensity of first love, and seeking meaning,” says Harvey. “Not that there has to be a message, but the feeling I get from the record is one of love – it’s tinged with sadness and loss, but it’s loving. I think that's what makes it feel so welcoming: so open.”
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Partisan Records, LLC, 281 N. 7th St., #2, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Our Terms and Conditions of Supply are provided by our shop and warehousing partner, Ochre. For more information about our shop's T&Cs, please visit here.
1. These Terms
1.1 What these terms cover. These are the terms and conditions on which we supply products to you, whether these are goods or digital content. These terms apply to orders of products made by you through third party websites in respect of which we provide retail services.
1.2 Why you should read them. Please read these terms carefully before you submit your order to us. These terms tell you who we are, how we will provide products to you, how you and we may change or end the agreement, what to do if there is a problem and other important information. If you think that there is a mistake in these terms or that they require any changes, please contact us to discuss.
2. Information about us and how to contact us
2.1 Who we are. We are Ochre Music Ltd trading as Ochre is a company registered in The United Kingdom. Our registered office is at Unit L, Spectrum House, 32-34 Gordon House Road, London, NW5 1LP. This store is operated by us on behalf of the Store Owner
2.2 How to contact us. If you have an issue with your purchase, customer services and fulfilment for this store is provided by Ochre.
2.3 How we may contact you. If we have to contact you we will do so by telephone or by writing to you at the email address or postal address you provided to us in your order.
2.4 "Writing" includes emails. When we use the words "writing" or "written" in these terms, this includes emails.
3. Our agreement with you
3.1 How we will accept your order. Our acceptance of your order will take place when we email you to accept it, at which point a binding agreement will come into existence between you and us.
3.2 If we cannot accept your order. If we are unable to accept your order, we will inform you of this in writing and will issue you with a refund. This might be because the product is out of stock, or because of other circumstances or events which we could not reasonably plan for, because we have identified an error in the price or description of the product or because we are unable to meet a delivery deadline you have specified.
3.3 Your order number. We will assign an order number to your order and tell you what it is when we accept your order. It will help us if you can tell us the order number whenever you contact us about your order.
3.4 Where we sell. We sell products in the UK and world-wide, except where we notify you that we are not able to supply products.
4. Our products
4.1 Products may vary slightly from their pictures. The images of products on our website are for illustrative purposes only. Your product may vary slightly from those images.
4.2 Product packaging may vary. The packaging of products may vary from that shown on images on our website.
5. Our rights to make changes
5.1 Minor changes to products. We may change products:
5.1.1 to reflect changes in relevant laws and regulatory requirements; and
5.1.2 to implement minor technical adjustments and improvements. These changes will not substantially affect your use of the products affected by the change.
5.2 More significant changes to products and these terms. If we need to make more significant changes to these terms or products for which you have placed an order, we will notify you and give you the opportunity to contact us to end the agreement and receive a full refund before the changes take effect.
6. Providing the products
6.1 Delivery costs. The costs of delivery will be as displayed to you on our website.
6.2 When we will provide the products. During the order process we will let you know when we will provide the products to you.
6.2.1 If the products are goods. we will provide you with an estimated delivery date when you place your order, which will be within 30 days after the day on which we accept your order, except in relation to pre-ordered goods, where we will give you an estimated shipping date based on when we expect the goods to be in stock.6.2.2 If the product is a one-off purchase of digital content. We will make the digital content available for download by you as soon as we accept your order, unless your order is a digital pre-order, in which case it will be made available on the stated release date.
6.3 We are not responsible for delays outside our control. If our supply of the products is delayed by an event outside our control then we will contact you as soon as possible to let you know and we will take steps to minimise the effect of the delay. Provided we do this we will not be liable for delays caused by the event, but if there is a risk of substantial delay you may contact us to cancel the order and receive a refund for any products you have paid for but not received.
6.4 If you are not at home when the product is delivered. If no one is available at your address to take delivery and the products cannot be posted through your letterbox, the carrier will leave you a note informing you of how to rearrange delivery or collect the products from a local depot. Redelivery of the product will be subject to the terms of the carrier.
6.5 When you become responsible for the product. The product will be your responsibility from the time we deliver the product to the address you gave us.
6.6 When you own goods. You own goods once we have received payment in full.
6.7 How long do I have to change my mind about a product? How long you have depends on what you have ordered and how it is delivered.
6.7.1 Have you bought digital content for download or streaming? If so, you have 14 days after the day we email you to confirm we accept your order, or, if earlier, until you start downloading or streaming. If we delivered the digital content to you immediately, and you agreed to this when ordering, you will not have a right to change your mind.6.7.2 Have you bought goods? If so you have 14 days after the day you (or someone you nominate) receive the goods.
6.8 When you don't have the right to change your mind. You do not have a right to change your mind in respect of:
6.8.1 digital products after you have started to download or stream these; or6.8.2 sealed audio or sealed video recordings or sealed computer software, once these products are unsealed after you receive them.
6.9 International Shipping. Orders shipped between countries may incur duties and taxes and additional fees levied by carriers or brokers to administer collection of said duties and taxes. For the avoidance of doubt payment of duties, taxes and any related carrier fees or costs is your responsibility. We will not be liable or responsible if you do not pay any such import duties or taxes.
7. If there is a problem with the product
7.1 How to tell us about problems. If you have any questions or complaints about the product, please contact us. You can telephone our customer service team at 0207864374 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and Customer Services, Ochre, Spectrum House, 32-34 Gordon House Road, London, NW5 1LP.
7.2 Summary of your legal rights. We are under a legal duty to supply products that are in conformity with this agreement. See the box below for a summary of your key legal rights in the UK in relation to the product. Nothing in these terms will affect your legal rights.
7.3 Returning products to us. If you cancel the order for any reason after products have been dispatched to you or you have received them, or if you wish to exercise your legal rights to reject products, you must post them back to us. Please email us at email@example.com or visit https://support.ochre.store/ for a return label. If you are exercising your right to change your mind you must send off the goods within 14 days of telling us you wish to cancel the order. You must use a service that can return the product to us in good condition. Please ensure that the return parcel is marked clearly with the wording “Return to supplier”
7.4 When we will pay the costs of return. We will pay the costs of return if the products are faulty or misdescribed. In all other circumstances (including where you are exercising your right to change your mind) you must pay the costs of return.
7.5 How we will refund you. Within 14 days of receipt of the goods (or, in the case of digital content, you telling us you have changed your mind), we will refund you the price you paid for the products including delivery costs, by the method you used for payment. However, we may make deductions from the price, if (where you are exercising your right to change your mind) the product is received in a damaged or used state.
7.6 When your refund will be made. We will make any refunds due to you as soon as possible. If you are exercising your right to change your mind then:
7.6.1 If the products are goods and we have not offered to collect them, your refund will be made within 14 days from the day on which we receive the product back from you or, if earlier, the day on which you provide us with evidence that you have sent the product back to us. For information about how to return a product to us, see clause 8.2; or7.6.2 In all other cases, your refund will be made within 14 days of your telling us you have changed your mind.
7.7 Downloads from other providers We are not responsible for the digital products and downloads provided in records as a download card or any other delivery method other than through the Ochre system. Including failed or corrupt downloads, incorrect redemption codes or discontinued or broken download services.
Summary of your key legal rights
This is a summary of your key legal rights under UK law. These are subject to certain exceptions. For detailed information please visit the Citizens Advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk or call 03454 04 05 06.
If your product is goods, for example, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says goods must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. During the expected life of your product your legal rights entitle you to the following:
- up to 30 days: if your item is faulty, then you can get a refund.
- up to six months: if your faulty item can't be repaired or replaced, then you're entitled to a full refund, in most cases.
- up to six years: if the item can be expected to last up to six years you may be entitled to a repair or replacement, or, if that doesn't work, some of your money back.If your product is digital content, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says digital content must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality:
- if the fault can't be fixed within a reasonable time, or without causing you significant inconvenience, you can get some or all of your money back
- if you can show the fault has damaged your device and we haven't used reasonable care and skill, you may be entitled to a repair or compensation*
8. Price and payment
8.1 Where to find the price for the product. The price of the product (which includes applicable VAT) will be the price indicated on the order pages when you placed your order. We take all reasonable care to ensure that the price of the product advised to you is correct. However please see clause 9.3 for what happens if we discover an error in the price of the product you order.
8.2 What happens if we got the price wrong. It is always possible that, despite our efforts, some of the products we sell may be incorrectly priced. We will normally check prices before accepting your order so that, where the product's correct price at your order date is less than our stated price at your order date, we will charge the lower amount. If the product's correct price at your order date is higher than the price stated, we will contact you for your instructions before we accept your order. If we accept and process your order where a pricing error is obvious and unmistakeable and could reasonably have been recognised by you as a mispricing, we may end the agreement, refund you any sums you have paid and require the return of any goods provided to you.
8.3 When you must pay and how you must pay. We accept payment with [all major credit and debit cards]. When you must pay depends on what product you are buying:
8.3.1 For goods, you must pay for the products before we dispatch them.8.3.2 For digital content, you must pay for the products before you download them. For digital pre-orders, we will take payment when you place the order.8.4 What to do if you think an invoice is wrong. If you think an invoice is wrong please contact us promptly to let us know.
9. Our responsibility for loss or damage suffered by you
9.1 We are responsible to you for foreseeable loss and damage caused by us. If we fail to comply with these terms, we are responsible for loss or damage you suffer that is a foreseeable result of our breaking this agreement or our failing to use reasonable care and skill, but we are not responsible for any loss or damage that is not foreseeable. Loss or damage is foreseeable if either it is obvious that it will happen or if, at the time the agreement was made, both we and you knew it might happen, for example, if you discussed it with us during the sales process.
9.2 If defective digital content which we have supplied damages a device or digital content belonging to you and this is caused by our failure to use reasonable care and skill we will either repair the damage or pay you compensation. However, we will not be liable for damage which you could have avoided by following our advice to apply an update offered to you free of charge or for damage which was caused by you failing to correctly follow installation instructions or to have in place the minimum system requirements advised by us.
9.3 We are not liable for business losses. We only supply the products for domestic and private use. If you use the products for any commercial, business or re-sale purpose we will have no liability to you for any loss of profit, loss of business, business interruption, or loss of business opportunity.
10. How we may use your personal information
11. Other important terms
11.1 We may transfer this agreement to someone else. We may transfer our rights and obligations under these terms to another organisation. We will always tell you in writing if this happens and we will ensure that the transfer will not affect your rights under the agreement. If you are unhappy with the transfer you may contact us to end the agreement within 14 days of us telling you about it and we will refund you any payments you have made in advance for products not provided.
11.2 You need our consent to transfer your rights to someone else (except that you can always transfer our guarantee). You may only transfer your rights or your obligations under these terms to another person if we agree to this in writing.
11.3 Nobody else has any rights under this agreement. This agreement is between you and us. No other person shall have any rights to enforce any of its terms. Neither of us will need to get the agreement of any other person in order to end the agreement or make any changes to these terms.
11.4 If a court finds part of this agreement illegal, the rest will continue in force. Each of the paragraphs of these terms operates separately. If any court or relevant authority decides that any of them are unlawful, the remaining paragraphs will remain in full force and effect.
11.5 Even if we delay in enforcing this agreement, we can still enforce it later. If we do not insist immediately that you do anything you are required to do under these terms, or if we delay in taking steps against you in respect of your breaking this agreement, that will not mean that you do not have to do those things and it will not prevent us taking steps against you at a later date. For example, if you miss a payment and we do not chase you but we continue to provide the products, we can still require you to make the payment at a later date.
11.6 Which laws apply to this agreement and where you may bring legal proceedings. These terms are governed by English law and you can bring legal proceedings in respect of the products in the English courts. If you live in Scotland you can bring legal proceedings in respect of the products in either the Scottish or the English courts. If you live in Northern Ireland you can bring legal proceedings in respect of the products in either
Introducing the newest Partisan label partnership: Desert Daze Sound. Their first release will be the new album from the legendary Zamrock band WITCH, Zango.
section1 is a newly launched label in partnership with Partisan. section1 is the brainchild of Brontë Jane (VP of A&R at Third Side Music) alongside Chris Robbins and Tom Wironen of Friendly Announcer management (Big Thief, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Westerman, etc). Hildegard will be the first release on section1; more news on additional section1 releases to be announced soon.
Partisan Records is a member of Knitting Factory Entertainment. Knitting Factory Records is its sister label and the same team are responsible for releasing its catalogue and new titles.
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