Grace/Wastelands review by Pete Doherty

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  • Released: Jan 1, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.6 (19 votes)
Pete Doherty: Grace/Wastelands
1

Sound — 9
All the tracks, are rather sweet poetic ditty, pretty cool amd nicely sung by Pete. This album comprises gentle songs; Doherty's voice has been damaged by drug use, but these tracks are poignant and meaningful.

Lyrics — 8
01.Arcady: on his first solo CD he conjures an understated and fantastical vision of his homeland in which jazzy meditations on the 1930s bump up against haunted fairy-tale folk. Generally, soothing sound, worthlistening on a day off.
Pitter-patter drums and folk-jaunt acoustic finger-picking from Graham Coxon on this Dylan-esque opener suggest that Pete's album could be a Freewheeling Pete Doherty'-style affair. This'll be familiar to fans who've forked out for Pete's low-key London shows over the past year.
02.Last Of The English Roses: The Freewheeling Pete Doherty'? Scrunch that idea into a ball and take aim for the wastepaper basket. This, the album's lead single, sounds like Gorillaz. Murky bass, gloopy heartbeat drums, harmonica without Shaun Ryder popping up halfway through and drunkenly shouting IT'S DARE! this couldn't be more reminiscent of the work of Damon Albarn's nana-chomping side project. Except, of course, instead of Albarn's nonchalant croon we've got Pete's somewhat more distinctive vocal effort. The lyrics too could only really be Doherty's, cutting gutter'n'stars contemporary references with his romanticised view of English heritage singing about a girl who knows her Kappas from her Reeboks then her Winstons from her Enochs. So far, so completely unlike anything Pete's ever recorded before.
03.1939 Returning: an acoustic-based effort with filmic strings and an Eastern riff, apparently 1939 Returning' was written with a view to getting Amy Winehouse to add some warbles to it. There's no Wino here, no remnant of backward-looking jazz-pop, instead it's an atmospheric swirl that fit's with Arcady' as one of the more bare bones' efforts here.
04.A Little Death Around The Eyes: a Scott Walker-esque string duvet sweeps over this one has Pete been listening to Scott 4' or The Age Of The Understatement'? Either way, this is the song on the album most likely to ever appear in a Bond flick, and it features a line Pete has said was written by Carl Barat: Your boyfriend's name was Dave, I was bold and brave, and now you're mine. The rogue!
05.Salome: the downbeat death of A Little Death' segues wonderfully into the hungover Eastern acoustic guitar riff of Salome' a song that's been kicking around in the Doherty solo cannon for yonks and yonks. More strings and brutal but softly-delivered imagery (the head of John The Baptist on a plate, anyone? ), it's about as far from f--k Forever' as you can get without the help of a space shuttle.
06.I Am The Rain: its sensitive and wordy, a pleasant song to hear. Up in the sky with demand to supply. I am the rain. This one has a nice ending with a chorus of oo-ahsand upbeat guitar.
07.Sweet By And By: Wow. Are we in some kind of 1940s upper class tea party? Not quite, actually the tinkly piano and jazz-parp trumpets suggest we're in a jaunty illegal whiskey den in New York, 60 years back. And maybe Pete's had a few too many tumblers of tongue-shrivelling bourbon towards the end of this he does sound rather merry. Yup, this album's eclectic.
08.Palace Of Bone: we don't think James Skelly is the suing type possibly a good thing, as Palace Of Bone', or at least the intro, is pretty Coral-tastic to say the least Pass It On' quite literally. In reality this is probably Pete's obsession wit The La's becoming more prominent on this understated Liverpudlian-sounding song.
09.Sheepskin Tearaway: another tender acoustic'n'piano-based effort, this time a duet between Pete and singer Dot Allison, who has joined the Babyshambler to perform it live at various solo gigs over the past year. Not quite a cousin to What Katy Did' off the Libs' second album but at least some kind of daughter of an aunt's sister who you know you're related to in some way. Babyshambles' Drew McConnell's stand-up bass and loungey piano add depth to this sweet, drifting song.
10.Broken Love Song: remember Wolfman? For Lovers', from 2004? He is credited with co-writing this. An earlier version was recorded with producer Jake Fior, but this new effort features Wolfy on guitar, building a creeping bass path to a blustering chorus They are the loneliest repeated on possibly the most prominent hook on an album which, as Pete has said himself, is a rather uncommercial effort.
11.New Love Grows On Trees: from the blustery Broken Love Song' back to a cinematic bass-sweep'n'acoustic-tied effort. An air raid siren moans in mournfully over one of the more lyrically deft songs on the album, Pete singing, Are you still talking to, All of those dead film stars, like you used to? /And are you still thinking of, all of those pretty rhymes/And perfect crimes, like you used to love? . This had been kicking around the Libs and Shambles canon for a while before Pete decided to use it here.
12.Lady, Don't Fall Backwards: an understated two-and-a-half minutes of acoustic guitar and echoing Richard Hawley-esque electric guitar meandering in the background to close the album. Here Pete gets all romantic Every giro day dress me like a ladyboy if we make love in the morning I see your eyes look like two marbles in your head. A downbeat organ, Come on fall into my arms repeated over the final strum, and that's Pete's solo album done.

Overall Impression — 9
The album is the most diverse album Pete has made by a long stretch. The bulk of it sees an atmospheric mix of acoustic guitar (mainly played by Graham Coxon) and strings set a keynote of tenderness and mystery far away from the frenetic Shamble-ness of f--k Forever', Pipedown', Delivery' and the like.

Listeners who aren't already in sync with Doherty's wastrel reportage likely won't be swayed by Grace/Wastelands, but the album generates an atmosphere of fragile, easily disturbed calm bound to captivate those who still find him one of the most compelling figures in modern rock.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    samjclee
    I really loved this album. Doherty is a waster and not, from the outside looking in, a particularly nice guy, you wouldnt want your daughter to bring him home. There is no getting away from the album itself though and the musical accomplishment within it. Whether It's by luck or extremely helpful friends, or wheter Pete still has musical brilliance inside him, its hard to tell. In my opinion this is irrelevent to the music, and what can only be described as a great, if not perfect album.
    Illiad86
    he was good...his voice is way too ****ed up now to make me want to listen to him anymore...I miss the days of The Libertines
    Somnambulance
    Did he run out of ideas or something? I've had demos of just about all of these songs for about five years now. The Libertines' first album was great. These tracks are that album's b-sides at best. I expect that from Doherty though. Coxon is the one I'm worried about. He used to have such fantastic guitar lines, but they're not there anymore. Well, if it's not obvious by now that Damon Albarn is the genius behind Blur by now, I guess...
    bilbobilo
    one of the best records of this bloody 21st century an his voice may be diffrent now but its somekind of athmosphric now