Mike Doughty

Stellar Motel

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Stellar Motel Review

by Gregory Heaney

Since the release of Yes and Also Yes in 2011, Mike Doughty has been on something of a personal journey. After releasing a deeply intimate memoir about his battle with addiction and the turmoil of his time in Soul Coughing, a live album where he answered questions from the audience, a collection of covers, and both a live and studio album of remade versions of Soul Coughing songs, the singer/songwriter has been hard at work reclaiming his past connecting with his fans. And while the former has been good for him artistically, the latter has seen him reap the benefits of the crowd-funding revolution, creating a symbiotic relationship with his fans that has helped him go on a prolific streak, releasing seven albums in the last two years. The last of these, Stellar Motel, finds Doughty releasing new material with an album that feels informed by his recent visit to the Soul Coughing oeuvre. Working again with producer Good Goose, who lent his chops to 2013's Circles Super Bon Bon…, Doughty once again merges his poetic lyricism with dance music and hip-hop, even going so far as to bring in MCs to drop verses on the tracks. This helps to create a wonderful contrast on songs like "Let Me Lie," where Doughty's irreverent, spoken word explorations are punctuated by swagger-filled verses from Big Dipper. What really stands out about Stellar Motel, however, is how free it feels. Finally out from under the weight of a back catalog that is celebrated by fans and loathed by the man himself, Doughty seems as though he's able to explore this hip-hop/alternative fusion without being held back by sour memories of his tumultuous early forays into the genre. This gives Stellar Motel an uplifting and celebratory quality that makes it clear Doughty is ready to start a new chapter in his artistic career, and given how solid the album is, it's one that fans will want to pay attention to.

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