Springtime! There’s no better time to fall in love afresh. Or, to put it in the words of VAN MORRISON: “The right time to feel the way young lovers do.” So, time to look for a soundtrack for all the blossoming feelings. Maybe MICK HARVEY‘s new album that, after all, was announced as a contemplation on romantic love? Of course not. As one might expect from a long-time companion of NICK CAVE and the producer of PJ HARVEY, this song cycle doesn’t extol the glory of love in bright colours. Instead it deals with its lost and evanescence, its traces of memory, the saddening shadows love is casting and – transcending human relations – its cosmical dimension.
Four (Acts of Love), released via Mute Records, is MICK HARVEY‘s sixth solo studio album, and the follow up to 2011’s Sketches from the Book of the Dead. In 2009 HARVEY parted with NICK CAVE after 36 years of close collaboration. Already at school they had founded the band THE BIRTHDAY PARTY and afterwards THE BAD SEEDS. Since his separation from his old friend HARVEY intensified his work as a producer. Together with PJ HARVEY – they’re not related by blood or marriage – he won the Mercury Prize for Let England Shake. And many things within MICK HARVEY‘s new LP remind of the sighing melodies of this seminal album. Not only his version of Polly’s song Glorious.
There are further covers on this album that is divided into three acts. While the first act is named after EXUMA’s Summertime In New York that is transformed into a schizophrenic blues version, the last act takes up ROY ORBISON’s Wild Hearts Run Out Of Time in order to make a contemporary melancholic ballad from it.
Another cover – and one of the most impressive songs on Four (Acts of Love) – is the radical renewal of the initially mentioned ‘The Way Young Lovers Do. Original a passionate hymn it turns into an ambivalent nostalgic memory that is cased in and opened by an almost astral soundscape. Especially the tension between this ambience built by organ sounds, reverberating guitars and a creaking cello on the one hand, the romantic lyrics and MICK HARVEY‘s nearby sermon-like vocals on the other hand, is quite stirring.
So due to his sense of the dark blue of musical emotions and well-chosen orchestrations – next to multi-instrumentalist HARVEY the album features Rosie Westbrook on double bass and JP Shilo on guitar and violin – the Australian still is able to evoke touching and thoughtful moments… in a way usually only seasoned lovers can do.