Mick Harvey: FOUR (Acts of Love) – album review

Mick Harvey ‘FOUR (Acts of Love)’ (Mute)
Released: 29th April 2013

FOUR (Acts of Love) is ex-Bad Seed Mick Harvey’s sixth solo effort and the follow up to 2011’s Sketches from the Book of the Dead. The album features 14 compositions; clocking in at a little over 35 minutes. The songs on the album are sectioned into three acts; ‘Summer time in New York,’ ‘The Story of Love,’ and ‘Wild Hearts Run out Of Time.’ All the songs are focussed on romance and the trials and tribulations love brings and features several original songs penned by Harvey. In addition to original compositions, it also features contributions from long time collaborator PJ Harvey and Harvey’s own take on tracks by Van Morrison, The Saints, Exuma and Roy Orbison.

FOUR (Acts of Love) is an enthralling listen from start to finish, with many different emotions conveyed in the short, but sweet, duration. ‘Act 1: Summer time in New York’ opens with ‘Praise the Earth,’ which begins as an up tempo piano led tune, before descending into a darker place. The PJ Harvey contributed ‘Glorious’ is a harder edged affair with sinister guitars and vocals. Midnight on the Ramparts would not have been out of place on Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ soundtrack with its meandering feel. An interpretation of Exuma’s 1972 track ‘Summertime in New York’ is a hypnotic, double bass heavy affair. ‘Where There’s Smoke’ brings down the ends Act 1, continuing the uneasy feel that is created in the opening act.

‘Act 2: The Story of Love’ feels brighter. A mantra like recital of Van Morrison’s ‘The Way Young Lovers Do’ is an undoubted highlight here. A haunting backdrop of feedback and acoustic guitar backs Harvey’s fragile, almost whispered vocal on ‘A Drop, An Ocean.’ The title track of Act 2 closes proceedings with a more straight up band track. The accompaniment from Rosie Westbrook on double bass and JP Shilo on guitar and violin is excellent throughout.

The final act of the album, Wild Hearts Run out Of Time, is built around a stripped back version of the Roy Orbison track of the same name. Act 3 is the shortest part of the album, but contains one of many highlights in ‘Fairy Dust;’ a short song with simple, excellent lyrics which see Harvey musing about the simplicity of love. As the album comes to a close, the same dream like piano that greeted the beginning, helps bring the curtain down on an excellent album.

‘FOUR (Acts of Love)’ is an accomplished piece of work, that has great depth lyrically and musically. Mick Harvey has produced a fantastic record that deserves to be listened to, appreciated…and loved.

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