England - Full Moon 154 - 04/09/09
Doherty's first solo outing is quite something different. Something different than his Libertines/Babyshambles songbook. And quite something different than I've expected. I'm not quite sure what I think. Of course, here are glimpses of the British tradition of, say, Ray Davies. But you also find as many traces of American rock thrown in. Some names that comes to mind along the tracks are Johnny Thunders and Jeffrey Lee Pierce.
The biggest surprise is the cleaned up sound. Well, not that surprising since Stephen Street (who also did Shotter's Nation) have been steering from the producer's seat. But, surprisingly as we're talking Doherty, usually known for solid doses of scrambling rock. Among the players we also find Blur-guitarist
Graham Coxon, and, intentionally or not, "Last Of The English Roses" is somewhat Blur-ish. From the opener "Arcady" and on, Doherty aims for a laidback, mainly acoustic approach with this album. "1939 Returning" - planned to be a duet with Amy Winehouse - shows an emotional Doherty telling a lesson of war history.
"Salomè" is where I get the Johnny Thunders association. When Doherty's crooning his way through the sax'n'piano guided "Sweet By And By", I'm not all that impressed. A bit tacky/over-the-top, if you're asking me.
The songs working best are (mainly from the album's second half): the Doherty/Carl Barât penned "A Little Death Around the Eyes", "Sheepskin Tearaway", "New Love Grows On Trees", and, last but not least, "Broken Love Song", which was co-written with Doherty's buddy Peter 'Wolfman' Wolfe.
All in all, Doherty's still got enough wild-boyish charm (as well as song-writing abilities) to keep me listening to his works. Maybe he's cleaned up his life/lifestyle a bit (just a bit won't help that much...), and maybe he's not the hottest target for the tabloid press anymore with Kate Moss out of the picture.
Maybe all this helps him focus writing better and better songs. Grace / Wastelands is a good, but not a great start.
Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen