Originally published: Clash
It’s been a busy year for Carl Barat: he’s had his theatre acting debut; narrated a film; written his eponymous debut album; penned his first book; and reformed The Libertines. He’s even found time to get his girlfriend pregnant. It makes you wonder if there will ever be a point when he will stop creating things?
“If I could be happy and not create things then that would be lovely, but I don’t think I can see that happening,” he explains, sleepily. When the Clash catches up with Carl, he’s just stepped off the plane from Dusseldorf where he has been promoting his new solo album: “I could try and sex it up and make it sound something romantic, but there is no point,” he deadpans.
Released on October 4th, he’s told fans to “expect the unexpected” of his self-titled debut. “I just had too much selfish stuff to deal with in music and life,” he explains of his decision to go solo. “I just found that being in a band was distracting and potentially compromising of that… It was basically restrictive to what could be played instrument-wise.”
Carl Barat is certainly a surprise on first listen, especially in consideration of his collaborative past in The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things and The Chavs. There is still the poetic romanticism, sentiment and soul that kindles at the heart of his work; but now, musically, Barat has matured in his musicianship. “I guess I have learned to grow more as a musician and a person,” explains the 32-year-old. “I think I kind of got stuck in indie-stasis for a while, and of course that became something of a warm comfort zone, but it was something that I had to break out of.”
It’s a definite departure from the indie clichés that he feels his name and career has been embowered by. Born from a set of introspective demos written on a piano in his north London home in 2009, the brash buoyancy that has been familiarised his work to date has been replaced with symphonic tenderness and theatrical melodies. In its essence, Carl Barat sees Carl Barat put a full stop to certain chapters in his life while starting afresh on new ones – lyrically and musically. “I guess I never did write a break up album,” he muses, “but the stories of being in bands and being in love… I guess it is I suppose.”
The narrative that underlies each and every song on the album comes with its own cathartic nuance. From the obvious odes to his “simple, yet complex” relationship with Pete Doherty (‘So Long, My Lover’, ‘Run With The Boys’), there are buried a number a ditties towards with women that he has loved as lost within his life (‘Carve My Name’, ‘The Fall’, ‘What Have I Done’, ‘Ode To A Girl’). “I think they will be grateful to remain anonymous,” he offers when asked about the protagonists. “I don’t want this to become a public kicking match.”
For now, the only lady in his life is the one bearing his child, Edie Langley. With his firstborn due in December, Carl is “bracing” himself for fatherhood. “From what I hear about this old parenthood thing is that it is no joke,” he quips. “I’ll have to work it out as I go along. But yeah, I am excited by the thought.”
And what of the thought of his new album and birth of a new start for his career? “If you’ve been working to the idea that it doesn’t have to sell anything, which I have,” he poses, “it makes it a lot easier. You can really just go with your heart. I always knew in my soul that this album was the truth and I genuinely love this record. I’ve never said that about a record I’ve made. I’m happier and more complete as a person for having made it now.”