No Longer Coughing, But Still Got Soul
A sign of a true artist is the ability to alter oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s style and retain those intrinsic elements of oneself (and oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s art) that allow integrity to remain intact despite the change. On Haughty Melodic, ex-Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty successfully navigates through musical change while retaining most of what made him, and the now defunct Soul Coughing, such a great act. His skillful and poetic play on words, gaudy lyrical imagery, and ability to produce music that is both playful and honest, shine on his latest effort.Musically, Haughty Melodic is a far cry from the jazzy, experimental, and blissfully erratic car-wreck of sounds that was Soul Coughing. Whereas SCâ€šÃ„Ã´s music was known for its indie appeal amidst the 90s grunge-dominated scene, Doughtyâ€šÃ„Ã´s latest on Dave Matthewâ€šÃ„Ã´s ATO Records is an easily accessible mid tempo album which, because of Doughtyâ€šÃ„Ã´s artistry, manages not to alienate/offend ardent SC fans while attracting those unfamiliar with Doughty or his prior work. Steel guitars, piano accompaniment, and a trombone are the norm on this album. More melodic than haughty, Doughtyâ€šÃ„Ã´s cigarette-soaked, raspy voice, accompanied by a full band, churns out tunes dealing with honest introspection and the everyday mundanity of life.
With some songs sounding just a bit too poppy, not every track swims. However, by and large, the album works well. Whether serenading a love interest on â€šÃ„ÃºMadeline and Nineâ€šÃ„Ã¹ (â€šÃ„ÃºBut I can give you the constellations / lay down here and weâ€šÃ„Ã´ll count them allâ€šÃ„Ã¹), reflecting (in a melancholic manner) on hope on the earthy Ben Harper-esque â€šÃ„ÃºGrey Ghost,â€šÃ„Ã¹ or addressing a sense of isolation on â€šÃ„ÃºWhite Lexus,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Doughtyâ€šÃ„Ã´s brilliance remains clear despite his change.