Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Beneath the Country Underdog
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2000, Volume 7, #4
Written by John Metzger
After spending time as the self-proclaimed "press mule" for Chicagoís Bloodshot Records, Kelly Hogan has once again returned to the recording studio. The transplanted Atlantian, who has performed with both the Jody Grind and Rock*A*Teens, first stepped out on her own in 1996, but itís been four years since she has released an album of her own.
Not that she hasnít been busy ó the gal with the golden voice has made many Chicago area concert appearances and graced many an album for the insurgent country label. Nevertheless, itís good to see Hogan finally putting her attention back on the performance side of the music business, and those who have heard Hogan sing certain understand what wonderful news this is.
Granted, a good portion of Hoganís latest album Beneath the Country Underdog is comprised of cover tunes by classic songwriters like Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck. However, the song cycle is designed simply to showcase Hoganís vocal prowess, and the way she makes these selections her own bears more than just a casual listen. Perhaps the best of these is the haunting rendition of The Bandís Whispering Pines, which concludes the effort. Hoganís voice drifts as if lost in reverie as organ and pedal steel seep around the corners of the songís melody.
The Pine Valley Cosmonauts was indeed an interesting choice for a backing band, having put quite a kick into the music of both Bob Wills and Johnny Cash. However, on Beneath the Country Underdog the group settles for a more understated presence than one might expect. It adds just enough punch to (Itís a Mighty Thin Line) Between Love and Hate, gives Wild Mountain Berries a í60s pop flavor, and delivers I Still Canít Believe Youíre Gone with a tender sadness. In the end, it all melts together perfectly, allowing Hoganís voice to shine.
Beneath the Country Underdog is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box