Leah Hamer || December 3rd
Peter Doherty. Love him or hate him, you know him, as you rightfully should. And he is back, with his second solo album, Hamburg Demonstrations.
A twangy acoustic leads you into opening track, Kolly Kibber, before the iconic slurs of Peter Doherty shuffle their way in. Jolly yet melancholy, with inventive lyrics, delicate keys, and soulful backing singers- it becomes apparent that Doherty is not just rehashing the old indie-guitar-anthems we are used to.
Down For The Outing perks your attention with its fixating beat and plodding, descending riff, yet it remains stationary, unlike following track Birdcage. The third number gives focus to the rasps of Doherty, until he is surprisingly joined by female vocals in a sultry duet.
A heartfelt political preach comes next with Hell To Pay At The Gates of Heaven. Written in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last November, it magnifies the horror of gun crime, ‘Come on boys, choose your weapon, J-45 or AK-47?’ Its repeated line refers to a decision between guitars and guns, J-45 referring to John Lennon’s favourite acoustic, a Gibson J-45.
More pours from the heart follow, with Flags From The Old Regime, a re-recorded tribute to Amy Winehouse. Reliving his loss, Doherty sings humbly, against the backdrop of a soothing acoustic and gentle drumbeat.
A stirring violin leads the way with I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone) V2, turning Doherty’s gritty vocals into a poetic mumble. The track returns two songs later, reimagined as a catchy, indie, leading single. To include two versions of the same song reflects Doherty’s capacity for reinvention.
The clicks and pings of a typewriter morph into tapping drum beat next. The remainder of A Spy In The House of Love is a series of jerky strums and irregular drumbeats, ending with a mistaken conversation during the recording, purposely left in. Then comes, Oily Boker- a tug and pull of a cheery harmonica in the intro/outro and a heavy dark chorus that is later overlapped with the vicious, shouts of an argument.
Closing tracks The Whole World Is Our Playground and She Is Far round the album off with yet another display of binary emotions- beginning optimistic, before winding down to an emotional climax.
Recorded in the city of its name, Hamburg Demonstrations, is a mature display of emotions, politics and reality, reflecting the overwhelming life that Doherty has lived. It is neither Babyshambles, nor The Libertines. It is Peter Doherty. And after all of his years and experiences, his gift has not faded.