Peter Doherty

Grace / Wastelands (Parlophone)

Phases & Stages

Peter Doherty

Grace/Wastelands (Parlophone)

Embodying a 30-year-old Keith Richards on Grace/Wastelands' meaty special-edition DVD, the former "Pete" Doherty reveals the same English vulnerability all that infamy masked. Songs are sacred, even the offhanded ones; voices true heart. Largely unplugged, with the steel-string addition of Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, Doherty's initial release under his own name ruminates rather than rocks, as did his bands the Libertines and Baby Shambles, but then solo debuts, beginning with 1970's McCartney, generally lay themselves bare. Grace/Wastelands does, with the same irresistible UK melodicism begun by the British Invasion's big bang. Simple shepherds' song opener "Arcady," deliciously looped downstroke "Last of the English Roses," waltzing atmospheric "A Little Death Around the Eyes," arresting "Salomè," and new Doherty mist "I Am the Rain" equal his best songcraft. Fragments ("1939 Returning," "The Sweet By + By") drift, but Graceful love songs "Sheepskin Tearaway" (guest starring Dot Allison), "New Love Grows on Trees," and "Lady Don't Fall Backwards" tattoo. "Very straightforward," offers Doherty, "and honest and open – a very personal record." A real beaut, in fact.

***.5

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