Golden Delicious – Mike Doughty
Years ago when Soul Coughing came undone, my thoughts turned to what its frontman Mike Doughty would do now that he didnt have the precision-like funkiness to support his poetry. Turned out that Doughty not only survived on his own, strumming an acoustic guitar minus the singer/songwriter affectations, but he showed that rhythm dripped from the pores of his body, swam through his blood cells and influenced every aspect of the next chapter of his music career.
On Golden Delicious it infiltrates his melodies, flows through his vocal delivery and, when words escape him, his nonsense words make sense in places where only Esperanto yearns to tread. It’s an awkward, gangly sort of rhythm he presents. Hes unable to drop the hard funk of James Brown, Parliament, the Meters and Galactic among others, yet Doughtys version of bootyshakin has been nurtured and found a comfortable existence. It has the carefree swing heard within the grooves of Cake, where your rear gets in gear before your mind realizes what’s happening. And once it becomes aware, you just don’t care. Hes direct with his intentions on I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing, More Bacon Than the Pan Can Handle and I Wrote A Song About Your Car, which opens with the lines, I wrote a song about your car/I wrote it with your hips in mind. And, in a subtler manner, 27 Jennifers gets the same job done even if its breezy pop arrangement strikes differently than the other numbers.
Doughty recorded Golden Delicious with his touring band and it shows throughout the album’s 11 tracks. There’s a loose syncopated quality to the tunes that can only come about by a gathering of musicians getting to know each other well after a lengthy series of live performances. Because of that the mood is positively bright, even when its opener, ‘Fort Hood,’ starts on a dark note — relating the youthful moments obliterated by service members who trained at the military base and, consequently, are sacrificed during tours of duty in Iraq. Without getting wordy, he relates the tragedy of today with the quagmire of the past, using the hippie dream line of Let the Sunshine In from the musical Hair to counterbalance the reality of the present. Like much of Golden Delicious the juxtaposition shows the growing confidence and maturity Doughty has in his work, to intellectualize without looking like hes trying and to just relax and live it up because its just as necessary.