Peter Doherty: Grace/Wastelands

Peter Doherty: Grace/Wastelands

 

Is Pete Doherty destined to spend the rest of his life as an intermittently brilliant, more than slightly sad pop icon? Will he be like Harry Nilsson or Shane MacGowan: capable of greatness, but too frequently undone by his own bad habits? If so, Doherty’s Grace/Wastelands—his first solo effort, following two LPs each with The Libertines and Babyshambles—may well be remembered as a rare case of him pulling it together enough to justify his cult. Walking that narrow, precariously winding path between casually cool and completely collapsed, Grace/Wastelands finds Doherty digging some of his best previously unrecorded songs out of the trunk and recording them with producer Stephen Street and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, among others. It’s a quiet record by and large, where the loudest sound on any given track is Doherty’s woozy, slurred voice, singing about the faded glory of old England with the relaxed command of a wizened cabaret act. 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.

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