While Soul Coughing always possessed an air of inscrutability, Mike Doughty has spent the time since the band's implosion making his life an open book. Whether he's connecting with fans through more personal lyrics, the Internet, or his memoirs, Doughty's willingness to let fans take a look behind the curtain makes him feel like the natural evolution of the singer/songwriter. On The Question Jar Show, Doughty takes this concept a step further with a series of live performances where audience members were encouraged to write down questions for the singer to answer on the spot. The questions are largely lighthearted queries like "Would you rather trip an old lady or kick a puppy?" or "What's your favorite Cyndi Lauper lyric?," creating an interesting juxtaposition between the intimacy of a two-man acoustic show (with Doughty accompanied only by cellist/bassist/sidekick Andrew "Scrap" Livingston) and the random minutiae revealed by the questions put forth by the audience. It's in this kind of setting where Doughty thrives, with the sparse arrangement putting the focus on his twisting, poetic lyrics while the time between songs gives the singer the opportunity to draw audiences in with his laid-back charm. Songs like "Madeline and Nine" and "Down on the River by the Sugar Plant" really shine when they're stripped down to their most basic elements, allowing their yearning to take center stage in the absence of a full band. The Question Jar Show is one of those rare live albums that is a great listen for diehards and non-believers alike, allowing fans to hear different takes on some of their favorite songs while giving anyone who may have lost track of Doughty in the post-Soul Coughing era the chance to get reacquainted over a few songs and some light conversation in a way that most double-live albums wouldn't allow.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2