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A species’ greatest strength, in the evolutionary sense, is its capacity for adaptability. The same can be said of artists in the music industry, where very few acts enjoy lengthy careers without modifying their sensibilities somewhat as they progress (AC/DC and Godsmack aside…). Bearing that in mind, Mike Doughty has had an enduring presence in the music-world based largely on his malleability. From his early days of Trip-Hop/Fusion with Soul Coughing, to his acoustic artisanship as a solo artist, to finally merging his myriad influences in spinning sounds as DJ Doughty, Mike has made a career out of being adaptive. It is logical, then, that his latest release, The Flip is Another Honey, has Doughty going one step further and adapting other artist’s material as well.

 

This collection of covers is neither conventional nor predictable. Even with being quite familiar with Doughty’s material, there are many pieces on this record that I simply would not have expected him to gravitate towards. However, he executes every song with aplomb, often incorporating his own lyrics or arrangements into the source material to create his hybrid tunes. This concept is not alien to Doughty fans. He included the chorus lines of “Acquarius/ Let the Sunshine In,” in his song, “Fort Hood,” and his variation of the spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” in his tune, “Whole World.” His famed The Gambler EP also acts as a precursor to this collection with its version of the Kenny Rogers classic alongside live renditions of The Magnetic Fields’, “Strange Powers,” and Neutral Milk Hotel‘s, “The King of Carrot Flowers.” As such, it’s fairly safe to say Mr. Doughty knows his way around personalizing cover songs. This collection of covers, each drizzled with Doughty’s gravelly baritone, is still a refreshing departure from the norm.

 

From his beautiful blending of a loop from John Denver’s, “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” with his own trademark freestyle verses, to his versions of, “Send in the Clowns,” and, “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat,” (yes, Mr. Doughty even cribs from musical theater) we see multiple facets of Mike’s musical influences that might not have been apparent from his own material. He also fuses songs from different artists to create a composition, as with Cheap Trick’s, “Reach Out,” and Josh Wink’s, “Higher State of Consciousness” (which immutably embedded in my brain). There’s even an exceedingly memorable piece performed entirely in French (“Ta Douleur”); and if American audiences are agog at anything it’s multilingualism.

 

My personal sonic barb was Doughty’s version of the Cheap Trick staple, “Southern Girls.” I found myself ebulliently crooning along with the track as I tooled around in my automobile, and would embarrass myself further were I to reveal the track’s actual play-count in my library. This rendition pinions around a swing tempo, with a jangly electric guitar and booming upright bass playing musical pong with one another beside Doughty’s trademark acoustic. Additional synth and percussion craft a danceable undercurrent throughout the track.

 

Other eclectic cuts on the record are culled from Thin Lizzy, Doveman, The Red House Painters, and Low (which Doughty stunningly renders). Appearances by Roseanne Cash, Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on cello, and “Cashmere” Dan Chen on the Wurlitzer electric piano help to diversify the sound, but the bulk of the content is borne on the back of Mr. Doughty and his acoustic guitar. You can see Mike’s description of the track listing in our pre-release coverage of the album.

 

This record expertly encapsulates Doughty’s entire career by distilling the sound of his various musical incarnations and combining them all in a melodic amalgam. His version of the blues tune, “Jimmy Bell,” gives us an insight into what Soul Coughing may have sounded like were Mike calling the shots throughout, while his rendition of John Denver’s, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” is the perfect acousti-pop piece to plug in and Doughty-out to.

 

 

In summation, if you’re a Mike Doughty fan this album is a must have. His fingerprints are all over it, and the enticement is enhanced by his interpretations of material that you may already be familiar with. His innovative spirit has certainly expertly adapted these pieces and made them at home with the rest of his catalog. The record is hook-heavy, dynamic and listenable like you READ ABOUT. Pony up some scratch for a copy, because it will be well worth it.

 

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