BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Mick Harvey has spent so much of his career in the background – as a producer, soundtrack composer and musician in ensembles like the Birthday Party, Crime & the City Solution and the Bad Seeds – that’s it’s almost a surprise to realize Four (Acts of Love) is his sixth solo album.
As might be inferred from the title, this record is a concept piece of sorts, not so much in a narrative sense, but in a thematic one. Divided into four sections, Harvey ruminates on l’amour in its many permutations: lost, found, unrequited, unwanted. For his own compositions, he mines a rich vein, from the Tom Waits-like swagger of “Summertime in New York” and the sonorous folk of “God Made the Hammer” to the resigned country of “I Wish That I Were a Stone” and the atmospheric brooding of the two-part “Where There’s Smoke.” Harvey also borrows from the catalogs of friends and inspirations, rocking with PJ Harvey’s desire-riddled “Glorious,” crooning on the Saints’ “The Story of Love” and giving plainspoken balladic readings to Van Morrison’s “The Way Young Lovers Do” and Roy Orbison’s “Wild Hearts.”
Walking the same cabaret folk rock path traveled on his previous record Sketches From the Book of the Dead, Harvey sounds comfortable and confident in the skin of his artistic vision
DOWNLOAD: “Glorious,” “God Made the Hammer,” “Wild Hearts”