Review: Peter Doherty – Grace/Wastelands

By on Tuesday, 17th March 2009 at 4:00 pm

Peter Doherty album cover (side)If you’re a ‘Dohertyite’ chances are you’ve heard a couple of these songs already on gigapacks of his bootlegs, b-sides, studio sessions and laptop recordings, if you’re a virgin to these mixtapes then Grace/Wastelands will be an even bigger delight. Lead single ‘Last of The English Roses’ has done the rounds over the last couple weeks as Doherty presents his new clean image, the drugs and wastrel look is gone, now he shows up to gigs and ’09 has been free of relapses and such.. The album is an accumulation of this squeaky clean Doherty as music takes centre stage again.

The opener is all you would expect from Doherty; a soft mellow acoustic sing/strum-a-long, and if you are a keen disciple of everything Peter then you’d have heard this on one of the countless bootlegs etc. etc. His charm shines through the clever songwriting which is both witty and meaningful, I would go as far as to say that anyone who wants to see how a decent song looks on paper should google anything Doherty’s ever wrote (especially if it was with partner Carl Barat). Speaking of Carl, Peter knocks out ‘A Little Death Around The Eyes,’ a track that sat at the bottom of The Libertines recording list but finally found a release under Peter’s solo imprint.

‘1939 Returning’ is testament to his songwriting versitality as he tackles nazi Germany, alien to his usual topics (though ‘Arbeit Macht Frei is kind of close). The track ends with a nice guitar solo and as of yet there’s nothing too surprising about the music itself, Doherty sticking to what he knows best.

The Moss referances are plentiful on ‘Sheepskin Tearaway’ (where Doherty-Allison joint vocals are a joy) and ‘New Love Grown on Trees.’ This might give the anti-Doherty brigade a chance to criticise but the very obvious influence the supermodel’s had on him merits her a place on his debut. Coxon’s guitar adds an extra dimension to the LP as does the bass when expolited well (see: Last Of The English Roses..)

The record may become too the-same-sounding between tracks like ‘Salome’ and ‘Palace of Bone’ but there’s enough refreshment as the brilliant ‘Broken Love Song’ re-energises the record from any wear’n’tear and brings a fresh energy to the melancholy, again the spontaneous lyrics are a charm; “If you’re still alive/when you’re twenty five/should I kill you like you told me to?”

‘Lady, Don’t Fall Backwards’ is another song which has done the rounds in the Albert Hall bootlegs and Shaken & Withdrawn megamixes, but it finds a fully produced home on Grace/… and closes the LP with the soft acousticism for which we all know Doherty. It’s a good end to a remarkable debut, whilst it may not be origonal it serves as a good starting point for more albums to come (we hope) in the near future. The poetic songwriting and boyish charm win over the listener and it seems Doherty has been reborn, it’s an astounding effort and one which deserves the utmost praise.


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