Review Summary: The Bottom of a Well never sounded so good.
Let me start off by saying that I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who has absolutely no idea what Soul Coughing
was all about, nor do I have any business making statements about their sound/music from the handful of tracks I’ve come across. Instead, I’m looking at this album as a new discovery, one made by accident and without intending to really give this a listen. In turn I fell victim to a track that seemed to have worked on a fair number of people, helping to introduce a new wave of fans to Mike Doughty and his brand of acoustic rock.
Looking At the World From the Bottom of a Well
served as a starting point for many new fans finding the mellow, almost Dave Matthews-esc acoustic rock put forward from the former Soul Coughing frontman turned solo artist. The song also powerfully launches Haughty Melodic
, Doughty’s second solo offering. It’s an incredibly catchy number, showing traits of a melancholic upbeat vibe, and possessing a lush array of instruments and vocal layers. This is a trend that Doughty uses throughout HM, making for a dense musical soundscape (the landscape of the album’s sound I suppose). The attention to multi-tracking is pretty intense here, but not so much that it makes the music jumbled and confused. Rather, it seems to give the songs a somewhat explorative quality – that is to say, it sort of makes you want to really listen and “explore” the record to the fullest. Not all the tracks on Haughty Melodic possess the quirky infectious hues of Looking at the World or others like Unsingable Name
and I Hear the Bells
. There are a few moments of filler littered amongst the disc, though they never seem to hang around for long enough to ruin the overall listening experience. Lyrically the subject matter isn’t too deep, outside some semi-sly slandering of Starbucks style corporations and other pop-culture entities (hear Busting Up a Starbucks
Though it bears striking similarities to the likes of Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson (along with the cohorts that followed him), there is a little more to Mike Doughty’s music than the standard acoustic rock. His attention and prowess for layering various guitar lines, keyboards, horns and other instruments make for a pretty lush listening experience and gives this album a full sound. There are only a few sparse moments on the record, but for the most part is a constant barrage of multi-tracking wonders. Though I’m not familiar with his entire body of work, Haughty Melodic
is an accessible and enjoyable record for music fans from all walks.