Author and singer-songwriter Mishka Shubaly is living proof that there is art after addiction. Instead of ceasing to express himself artistically, he dipped deep down into the well from which he gets his inspiration and penned the songs that would become his latest album, Coward’s Path. These newly released compositions, which find the artist five years down the road from having achieved sobriety, aren’t just songs; they are extensions of Mishka Shubaly, and they are products of having climbed back up from the bottom. They are at once nihilistic and marked by caring a little too much; they are hard and vulnerable, mad and sane, dirty and clean, saved and damned, the poison and the antidote — a list of contraries which tell the listener a good deal about the artist’s character and his crazy life. And they are, all of them, fueled as much by sober life as his previous works were by drugs and alcohol.
Shubaly has an interesting musical side, to be sure, with a sound that lies somewhere between barfly folk and outsider rock, alternative country and non-traditional blues. Coward’s Path is what might have happened if singer-songwriters Tom Waits, Delaney Davidson, and Joey Cape collaborated on a minimalist avant-folk and bizarre rock album with lyrical contributions by the ghosts of literary figures Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson. All of these things are evident throughout the 12-song listening experience that is Coward’s Path, from the opener “Pickup Lines” to standouts like “New Jersey Valentine’s Day Orphan Blues,” “Your Stupid Dreams,” “Frankenstein Heart,” “Depravity’s Rainbow,” “Alcoholison,” to the closer, “Your Plus One at My Funeral.”
In addition to his efforts as a musician and singer-songwriter, Mishka Shubaly has seen some success as a writer, with a number of literary contributions for Amazon’s Kindle Singles. His literary voice is found in his music, as well, including the songs on his new release. Coward’s Path is the follow-up to Shubaly’s 2007 How to Make a Bad Situation Worse, which received favorable press but regrettably did not get the overall attention it deserved. Coward’s Path, however, has the potential to go a step beyond that, if not further.