I remember when I first heard Soul Coughing so many years ago, I was struck by the original songwriting, the unique instrument orchestrations, the fun lyrics, and the voice of Mike Doughty. After a while I lost track of them when they broke up, which I didn’t know for years. I was reintroduced to the songwriting prowess of a one Mike Doughty last year when I reviewed the reissue Skittish/Rockity Roll.
Now in 2005, he has signed with Dave Mathews record label and released his first fully produced solo album. In my opinion he is an artist who does not get as much recognition as he deserves. Every song on the album is a winner. Even my Mother has become a fan, and she is very picky about what she lets pass her ears, she recently heard “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well” while shopping at a local bookstore, it inspired her to ask the clerk what was playing. She remembered the name, as I had mentioned it at home and asked to borrow the album, I’m still waiting to get it back.
The music is still reminiscent of his Soul Coughing days, but the songs have a much more straight forward drive to them. Filled with off kilter lyrics, acoustic guitar, and rhythms that just get in your head a stick there, this album is a triumph. This is his most accomplished work since Soul Coughing, and while it has that distinctive sound to it, it stands on it’s own, completely apart from those recordings. This is also a step up from his earlier solo work, for the first time he has a full band to work with.
I have likened Mike to the late Warren Zevon. No, they don’t sound anything like the other, but their are similarities between the work they have produced. They both possess voices that are the opposite of what the growing American Idol mentality expects, their voices are emotive and passionate, yet do not have much of a range and still convey so much more feeling and emotion than those Idol singers could ever hope to accomplish. But I digress, back to Doughty and Zevon. They both write and perform their own material. They both can deliver heartfelt lyrics, as well as relate quirky lines that infiltrate their work.
It is hard to pick out the highlights of the album as all of the songs soar in their own rights. If forced to, I think I would have to go with the previously mentioned “Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well” as my favorite song from the album. Other strengths include “Busting up a Starbucks,” and “Tremendous Brunettes.”
The album hits a groove and it is very easy to sit back and just listen to the album straight through. You will find yourself tapping your foot to the rhythm, or catch yourself singing along with certain portions. Alternately melancholy and buoyant, this album puts great songwriting on display.
Bottomline. This probably one of the best albums that I have had the opportunity to listen to this year. Mike Doughty is one of the best songwriters working today. This album is a testament to the art of songwriting. On top of that it doesn’t take itself so seriously that it forgets to have fun with the medium. Mixed with the melancholic is a playful attitude that is clearly enjoying what he is doing. It shows. Excellent album.
Visit me at Draven99’s Musings.Powered by Sidelines