Most of Pete Doherty‘s time over the last couple of years has been filled up with the long-awaited third album from The Libertines, whether that be writing, recording, releasing or touring it. Now, though, he’s back on his own with ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’, his second solo album following 2009’s ‘Grace/Wastelands‘.
Released on December 2, it’s led by ‘I Don’t Love You (But You’re Not Just Anyone)’. As is often the case with Pete’s releases, it’s a song that’s been hanging around for a while (although it’s relatively new by his standards) having been first played live around 2013 and cropping up in setlists at a handful of shows since.
The first studio recording of it is polished and pretty, and as poetically romantic as you’d want from Pete’s solo work. “I don’t want anyone, but you’re not just anyone/You’re not just anyone to me,” it opens as guitars strum and a gentle rhythm shuffles beneath. It’s full of the songwriter’s inherent English charm and magical turn of phrase, lines like “The luck a penny brings means everything” and “You drop an eyelash and finger from the wish” dazzling on the stripped-back, unobtrusive recording.
It’s a song that’s both head over heels in love, but also recognises the fragility in that situation. “You live this way and oh I’ll never leave,” sings Pete at one point, completely committed, but he soon bursts that bubble with a mumbled follow-up: “Yes I will, it seemed so cold“. When he bursts into a bridge that references Civil War song ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ it seems like he could be giving a nod to a more fractious time just around the corner. But whether his relationship makes it or not ‘I Don’t Love Anyone…’ is a pristine return from one of Britain’s most cherished musicians.