Doug Schmude – Mileposts
Doug Schmude (rhymes with moody) is an artist who fortunately plays many instruments which helps flesh out his original songs that are influenced by the many places he has lived. Resonator guitar, lap steel, acoustic guitars, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, organ, piano & bass. All exemplified in his new self-produced 7-cut EP Mileposts (Lost Hubcap Records).
Already available – it’s Doug’s 5th & while it doesn’t boast anything specifically new in style, originality, or fresh it does maintain energetic, easily likable songs distinguished by well-carved out playing & Doug’s pop-folky vocal over clever lyrics.
Don’t expect Neil Young intensity, Townes van Zandt tales, Bob Dylan growl, or John Prine characters. What is present are liberally light-hearted stories with an abundance of well-thought-out lyrics surrounded by tight musicality.
“The Ballad of Early” is a plain folk tale with no tinsel or glitter. It features Gee Rabe (accordion) & Doug’s mandolin that lend a catchiness with a Tejano flavor. Doug Sahm & Flaco Jimenez of the Texas Tornadoes would be proud. I can’t dismiss Doug as just another basic singer-songwriter because his song structure is impressive, his little stories are admirable.
“All the Lines on My Face,” tears a page from John Prine’s songbook & it works well. The sad guitar notes — influenced by Prine with Doug’s own spin creates a worthy tune.
“Old Crow,” springs from the well of the old Goose Creek Symphony with the purity of George Mason’s fiddle, Doug’s fine acoustic picking, & the warm home-grown performance that is quite good. “Feels Like Texas” follows with excellent musical inter-weaving & a wonderful groove. One of Doug’s finest vocals. Probably the best on the EP.
Additional players include Brandon Allen (drums), Ed Kabong (bass), Larry Salzman (percussion), & Boris Bengin (harmonica).
Though performed out of respect to the late John Prine, “A World Without John Prine,” comes across as a novelty song more than a dedication. I should be sad, but I smirked. Maybe it just needs a different “vocalese” on the words & not the sweet popish-vocal Doug applied (which is an honest mistake because a good producer would’ve advised & redirected the effort to a differently refined vocal approach).
Doug stays on track with “Maybe I Just Won’t Go Home Tonight.” Serious, well-performed & a good showcase for the musicians. Solid heavy drums, concise guitar & the right vocal tone. Doug just needs to develop a more cutting-edge vocal mannerism to create a signature sound that other singers don’t have. It would keep his good songs from being easily forgotten. More pepper less sugar. Prine was not Gordon Lightfoot, Lightfoot’s not Bob Dylan, Dylan’s not Fred Neil etc.
“Hey, that’s a Schmude song isn’t it?” Make them remember it’s you. The 25-minute CD is available at http://www.dougschmude.net/