Pete Doherty is, to put it simply, one of Britain’s most iconic musicians. However, if you were to ask someone about him back in 2007 and subsequently tell them that not only would his band The Libertines reform but that he’d also have a successful solo career, they’d probably laugh you off.
While Doherty kept himself busy even after the breakup of the band that put him on the map, it wasn’t unusual to see some tabloid headline about him relating to his brushes with the law and his much talked about drug abuse.
Fast forward to now though and Doherty is a rectified man. Following his triumphant rehabilitation in Thailand which in turn resulted in the successful reformation of The Libertines last year, the man has hit out with Hamburg Demonstrations.
Having showed up on the doorstep of Clouds Hill Recordings unannounced, a studio located in the city of Hamburg where Doherty had always wanted to record, the Libertines man spent half a year working on his new record.
While not his first solo album, that title goes to Grace/Wastelands released back in 2009, Hamburg Demonstrations is arguably Doherty’s most refined and enjoyable LP thus far.
The first single off this album “I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)” is a great example of Doherty’s evoking vocal delivery as well as his lyrics, the former having a far more weary and romantic weight than anything Doherty has shown previous to this.
A rendition of When Johnny Comes Marching Home midway through the song is unexpected but is enough to put you in the mind-set that while Doherty is doing something unusual, he’s trustworthy being behind the wheel for this 11 track ride.
In addition to this, there’s a V.2 edition of the track that appears prior to the single version which sounds far rawer and arguably lo-fi though there’s enough of a difference for the song to appear twice throughout the record, especially considering the short running time of said songs.
There are other standout tracks that make this album a surprise hit with both die-hard fans of the Albion boy and newbies.
Take for instance Flags From The Old Regime, a song dedicated to another iconic brit Amy Winehouse, an artist who Doherty has a long past with. While being close, the two never made any music together, something that Doherty says will “haunt me to my dying day” and the emotion seeping out of every second of the song is clear on first listen.
Emotion is a key word when talking about Hamburg Demonstrations as whether it’s to do with the positive, shown by lovey pieces like the aforementioned “I Don’t Love Anyone” or some sombre pieces such as “Hell To Pay At The Gates Of Heaven”, Doherty comes into a league of his own, demonstrating that he firmly has what it takes to make it out on his own.