Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts Beneath the Country Underdog (Bloodshot)

Beneath the Country Underdog (Bloodshot)

Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts

Beneath the Country Underdog (Bloodshot)

Ever been with your significant other, holed up in a Motel 6 on a cross-country trip, and feeling like it was time to make friends with a bottle of Early Times to settle your nerves after driving all damn day? This CD in the jambox would be just the ticket. Former Jody Grinder and Rock*A*Teen Kelly Hogan moved to Chicago and alt.country beacon Bloodshot a while back, with interesting results. Hogan's voice is supple and evocative, but can also go from 0 to 100 with surprising alacrity. The Hoganauts rock out on opener "(It's A Mighty Thin Line) Between Love And Hate," but much of the rest of this disc has an early-Seventies Nashville country-pop feel. That's not meant as a pejorative; the reverb-y production, background vocals, horns, keyboards, and smooth feel give it a soulful edge that stands out from much of the Bloodshot stable. Case in point: Hogan pulls off a letter-perfect remake of Freddie Hart's monster country hit, "Easy Loving." The duet "Wild Mountain Berries," on the other hand, calls to mind Delaney & Bonnie. "Crackers Rule" is a moody, detached take on the inside of a barroom that wanders from honky-tonk heritage. Much of Country Underdog can't rightly be called "country" or "alt.country" or whatever, but who cares? Hogan's vocal chops allow her to take on about anything and pull it off convincingly.

***

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