Quirky songwriter Mike Doughty
(formerly the frontman of Soul Coughing
) has carved out a name for himself as a solo artist. The Flip Is Another Honey
finds Doughty paying homage to other artists on a covers album full of gems.
Doughty’s work is often criticized for sticking to a single sound (think indie rock guitar, bourbon-smooth vocals, lots of religious and drug imagery). The Flip gives Doughty a chance to branch out, and he takes it, producing much of the music himself and sounding comfortable in a variety of contexts.
The styles here range wide, from a delightfully schizoid rendition of Guys and Dolls’ “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” to the effortless smooth, addictive update of Camille’s “Ta Douleur”. Even non-French speakers will be drawn in by the bend of Doughty’s distinctive vocals. Opener “Sunshine” is as warm as its namesake, as Doughty raps over John Denver samples, including the impressive lyric “macking chi, like a Maccabee.”
The Flip isn’t a flawless effort; “Boy + Angel” and a few others lack punch. But updates to tracks like Cheap Trick’s “Southern Girls” and Thin Lizzy’s “Running Back” shine. The former, in particular, is enhanced by Doughty’s cover, the vocals warmer and more plaintive in his rounded drawl.
Doughty’s sheer enthusiasm is evident in small details, like the heartbreakingly gentle guitar line of “A Fanfare (Not Superman)”, a brief 28 seconds before bass and percussion swell into the hip “Jimmy Bell”. Doughty’s raw scream on “Sit Down” is the passion of a man who loves his work. The Flip Is Another Honey indeed.
Essential Tracks: “Ta Douleur”, “Southern Girls”