Review: Mike Doughty Keeps It Simple On His Latest

Mike Doughty, "Sad Man Happy Man" (ATO)

Mike Doughty took some heat from a few longtime fans for the bright pop he used to great effect on his last outing, "Golden Delicious."

Not one to ignore those who have stuck by him for 15 years, Doughty doesn't disguise the fact that he's catering to fans on his latest, "Sad Man Happy Man."

This isn't a bad thing, but that implies "Golden Delicious" was. It wasn't.

Slightly darker in tone than "Delicious" and relying heavily on his syncopated acoustic guitar _ though Andrew "Scrap" Livingston provides some nice work on cello _ Doughty's wit still shines through his nasal, hip-hop vocal style.

On the smooth "I Keep On Rising Up," Doughty gets playfully sexual without being crass ("I threw my weight into the curves you threw at me/I ripped the rules up, said I loved you on Day 3"), while on the jazzy "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" his abstract lyrics ("Not plump, she's plumpish/Frumpish, bumpish, lumpish, jumpish") are reminiscent of his Soul Coughing days.

The subtle folk-rock diversity goes from dark ("I Want To Burn You Down") to soaring ("Year Of The Dog)" and is rounded out by tight grooves ("Pleasure On Credit") and jangling love songs ("Diane" and the delightfully offbeat "Lorna Zauberberg").

His fans can agree on this: Mike Doughty's unique stylings are not to be missed.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Doughty incessantly repeats the chorus of "Lord Lord Help Me Just To Rock Rock On" and the track's pulsating energy is sure to fire up a crowd.

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