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Mike Doughty
Golden Delicious
ATO Records
www.mikedoughty.com


There are a few truths that I have come to know in life… some with a universal certainty, some simply as personal things that feel right. One thing that I can certainly tell you is a universal truth: Mike Doughty rules. There is no other musician on the planet with the poet's soul that possesses Doughty's every word and phrase. There are others who try to groove the way that Doughty grooves, but none that can make it seem as effortless and grand. Does everything the poet touch turn to gold? Perhaps not, but his success percentage is tremendously higher than his peers.

Doughty starts his new album with the heart-wrenching "Fort Hood", a track about the perils and costs of war. It is a dark subject, but somehow Mike turns the dark to light and incorporates hope into his track, infusing it with strains drawn from the 60's hit "The Flesh Failures Let The Sunshine In)." It's cool. On the enigmatically honest "I Just Want The Girl In The Blue Dress To Keep On Dancing" Doughty reveals his innermost stage thoughts with the cool swagger for which he's come to be known. This song is instant classic material, with brilliant beeping keyboards underscoring jazzy rhythms and stop-n-go guitar playing, all to the tune of one of the catchiest and most memorable songs Doughty has ever written. "Put It Down" is a logical continuation of the Haughty Melodic sound, and features the kind of ambling syllabic redundancy that finely enhances the poetry of the man who once was Soul Coughing. And speaking of which, shades of Soul Coughing past come out cleanly on the short break-beat trippiness of "More Bacon Than The Pan Can Handle."

A bit on the disappointing side is the remake of the incredible "27 Jennifers," originally released on the Rockity Roll EP. While the new version rocks it out quite a bit harder, features great rock guitar work and edgy drumming, it loses its acoustic sincerity and quirky beauty. The song is good, but for those who've been singing along to the older recording for some years, the track leaves a bit lacking. The album then lifts back into jazzier and more laid back territory with the ballad-y "I Wrote A Song About Your Car," which features some great Stevie Wonder-style keyboards and brilliantly groovy drumming. Doughty relaxes into an acoustic, moody talking blues on "I Got The Drop On You" before dropping into the slow jam of "Wednesday (No Se Apoye)," a track where the drums build a low drone and the electric pianos jingle through a bit of welcome darkness. "Like A Luminous Girl" slowly builds the record back up to make way for the truly shining vibe of "Nectarine (Part One)". This track captures the loose beauty that Doughty has brought to his live performances over the past few years, with chiming electric piano and rollicking drumming keeping the song moving a pace while the vocals creating that charmingly Doughty thing they do so often. You know, that thing.

By the time "Navigating The Stars At Night" starts its dynamic strains, filled with heavy synth pads and reverby guitars, Doughty has once more established his place in the world of modern music. The bleak and hopeful poetry of the track runs the point home that you've just experienced a phenomenal album, and you are in the midst of perhaps the most incredible track yet. The sonic characteristics are deep and rich, the lyrics captivating and compelling, the guitars building to and receding from a feverish pitch, while some very cool synthesizers keep things otherwise interesting and theremin-like. The truth all lies in this one song if there was any doubt up 'til this point. Mike Doughty is cool. Tell your friends; experience it for yourself. There is a healing and transcendent power in great music, and there is no greater music to be found than on Mike Doughty's Golden Delicious.

-Embo Blake


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