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What Babyface Did Next - A Rake's Progress
on 25 March 2009
It would appear that young Mr Doherty has taken a little
time away from his demons (or at the very least, on the
basis of this, his solo debut release, they would appear
to be treating one another a little more kindly of late).
Poetic self-destruction has a long and noble legacy of course.
However,the latter-day rake and tormented romantic
pose was beginning to wear a bit thin.
The blood drawings were certainly never going to be his salvation.
Just fodder for another bad dealer making an opportunistic buck
on the back of his, very public, dissolution.
More show-off than Shelley. More brazen than Baudelaire.
Everyone loves a bad boy nonetheless and those of us who
retained some belief in this young man's abilities have
been rewarded for our patience.
The twelve compositions delivered in this new project do indeed prove,
if proof were needed, that Mr Doherty can indeed write and sing a song.
'Grace / Wastelands' is a very English affair. Willfully so.
Opening track 'Arcady' is, on the surface, a breezy affair but the
worm in the rose is never far away. Pretty perversity.
Single 'Last Of The English Roses' is magnificent.
A series of fragmented memories woven into a
captivating melody and a killer chorus.
The lyrical discourse of '1939 Returning' was a tad confusing
for this old Wolf but will almost certainly be understood immediately
by anyone else listening to it. A moody piece, well performed.
'A Little Death Around The Eyes' is another dark elegy.
The uncertain position of the storyteller in relation to
the subject is morally ambiguous and all the more disturbing
because of this.
'Salome' pins his desire for bohemian credibility to
the mast with flying colours ( and he wants it very badly!)
'I Am The Rain' is a somewhat lacklustre affair in comparison
with what has gone before.
Proceedings recover splendidly with 'Sweet By and By',
a wonderfully silly seaside postcard of a song which
demonstrates both a capacity for humour and a deeper,
more accomplished musicality.
'Palace Of Bone' contains echoes of many past troubadours.
A performance of light and shade and not insignificant power.
'Sheepskin Tearaway' is a sweet ballad, enhanced winningly by
Ms Allison's supporting vocal.
'Broken Love Song' gives our hero a chance to flex his tortured
emotional muscles and soar. It's a cracker !
'New Love Grows On Trees' is a confessional letter full
of sour memories and bitter reflection.
For my money the album's strongest track by a mile.
'Lady Don't Fall Backwards' brings the collection to a warm
and wistful close. A little hope. A small redemption.
All in all Mr Doherty has delivered a very fine piece of work here.
Mr Street's production skills fully understood the space that
these songs would need to breathe and make their mark.
They both deserve our respect and admiration.