PJ Harvey has returned with her second new track since 2011′s Let England Shake (one of the Best Albums of 2011), and it’s a pre-Halloween treat. The towering British singer and songwriter has covered Nick Cave, who collaborated and had a relationship with her in the ’90s. She picked his Bad Seeds classic “Red Right Hand,” from 1994′s Let Love In.
The song has been covered by everyone from Arctic Monkeys to FIDLAR, but Cave’s blustery, gothic original has a serial-killer meticulousness that leave it forever stalking the streets on its own, unsettling in a way its appearances in the Scream movie franchise or The X-Files can’t fully commodify. Harvey wisely doesn’t try to imitate the chicken-scratch guitars or funereal gongs of the Bad Seeds version; instead, her somber, piano-centered abbreviation replaces the Old Testament grandeur of the well-known take for a preternatural quality that could have more to do with English lore. That would be appropriate: Harvey recorded the song for the BBC TV series Peaky Blinders, and the show’s music producer, Flood, told NME he turned to her to address complaints the show was too American.
London’s Goldsmith University recently awarded Harvey an honorary degree, as NME reported. She drew a backlash from British conservatives earlier this year when she guest-edited a BBC Radio 4 show. Aside from “Red Right Hand,” Harvey’s other new recording since Let England Shake is haunting in a different way: Last year she released “Shaker Aamer,” a stark, unstinting protest song from the perspective of a real-life Guantanamo Bay prisoner.
Listen to Harvey’s “Red Right Hand” below, via Pitchfork: