album reviews

Mike Doughty
Golden Deliciou
ATO Records (2008)

It's not fair to compare Soul Coughing with former frontman Mike Doughty's solo work. Soul Coughing melded Doughty's abstract poetry with keyboards, samples and an upright bass, while Doughty's solo work is more singer-songwriter material. Dave Matthews would be the easiest point of comparison for Doughty's recent work (and the most obvious, since Doughty is signed to Matthews's ATO Records) but also the least accurate. Doughty may be more straightforward than Soul Coughing, but he's still miles away from Matthews's brand of generic radio rock.

Even among more traditional arrangements on Doughty's latest release, "Golden Delicious" (especially lead single "27 Jennifers," with its '80s-sounding keyboards), Doughty puts words together in unusual and compelling ways, rhyming "easy" with "Japanese-y" in the melancholy "I Got the Drop on You" and repeating words until their meanings have disintegrated away, leaving only a collection of syllables and sounds as in "Put It Down."

Glimmers of Doughty's Soul Coughing approach still shine through; he sing-speaks phrases on "Navigating by the Stars at Night" as if they were tongue-twisters he has to concentrate on getting right. But the beauty of "Golden Delicious" is that he is not openly trying to duplicate his old band's sound.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 4 April 2008, Page WE10
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