Kelly Hogan: Because It Feel Good

Kelly Hogan: Because It Feel Good

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Kelly Hogan

Album: Because It Feel Good
Label: Bloodshot

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Kelly Hogan has a voice imbued with immense heartache and pent-up passion, with the versatility to sink into a register as low as a sob and reach for notes as high as heaven. Hogan's vocals are so strong that she's had difficulty finding musicians or songs that can keep up. Her first band, the early-'90s Atlanta cow-jazz quartet The Jody Grind, came closest to a proper fit, but it disbanded after a traffic accident claimed the lives of two members, and Hogan has spent the past decade drifting from Atlanta to Chicago, guesting on records by rockabilly and alt-country acts, and recording the occasional promising-but-underrealized solo record. Because It Feel Good is the latest in that string. Not as consistently lively as last year's Beneath The Country Underdog, Because It Feel Good features Hogan's pipes on a set of minimal, affecting torch-and-twang songs. Most of the album has the singer deploying her full dynamic range over a single, echoing electric guitar, a muted rhythm section, and faint strains of strings and pedal steel. The tactic pays off most handsomely on a haunting cover of Smog's "Strayed," which drifts forward while Hogan croons words of regret, penned by an unfaithful man; in that one song, she outdoes Tori Amos' heavily hyped, overly conceptualized gender-bending album Strange Little Girls. Covers have always been Hogan's strength: She picks songs that affect her personally, and on Because It Feel Good she lends credibility to compositions by the likes of The Bogmen, Charlie Rich, The Statler Brothers, and Randy Newman. (Hogan's two winning, Dusty Springfield-esque originals make a nice bonus.) The record's weakness derives from its virtue: The spare arrangements give the album a unified feel, but they're also a bit of a copout, as Hogan shies away from anything too risky or complicated. But as a concise showcase for one of the best voices in the rock and country underground, Because It Feel Good is as pleasurable as its title implies.

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