Photo credit: Keri-Ann Laurito
I've seenSuch vivid but fractured, metaphor-laden imagery is still Doughty's stock-in-trade, and when he's at the top of his game, few can equal his skill at crafting it. Even his gentler, more introspective material often employs such left-field wit: "I pledge allegiance to my displacement / My flag of doubt is unfurled" (from "Down on the River by the Sugar Plant", one of the new songs from Rockity Roll). But just as often now, Doughty's songs hit home with an emotional directness he rarely displayed in his Soul Coughing days. "My name to you is just another word," he sings on "The Only Answer", still growling the line like he tends to growl everything, but sounding more world-weary than cynical. The armor of ironic detachment has come off, and even though I still missed it at times during his Largo set, in the long run it can only bode well for a songwriter who still seems to be a long way from lapsing into sentimentality. Still, I'm looking forward to hearing Doughty back in the studio and on tour with a full band, instead of toting the heavy load of performing all by his lonesome. Rockity Roll, apart from a few drum machine tracks, is still a stripped-down solo effort, but Doughty promises a proper full-length with a backing band sometime in 2004; a running joke throughout his show at Largo was the album's title, which he claimed at different times would be either, "For the Love...of My Black Woman" (complete with meaningful pause) or "Girl, I Want to Love You in a Very Special Way". Whatever it's called, it should mark an interesting new stage in the development of this gifted, underrated talent.
the dangers of
your rising sign
but I swear
to drink the fuel straight from your lighter