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Kelly Hogan

Our critics' picks in new releases



In this age of tribute albums and record re-creations, if anyone ever decides to sponsor a rerecording of Dusty in Memphis, let me respectfully suggest signing up Kelly Hogan (Jody Grind frontwoman, before that band's tragic end, as well as a former Rock*A*Teen) for the title role. Hogan has said that Because It Feel Good, her second Bloodshot release, is an album that you should listen to in your underwear; the same wardrobe (if not a little more) that's recommended for Dusty in Memphis. (I mean, it's not like you're going to bundle up for breakfast in bed.)

In Because It Feel Good, like last year's Beneath the Country Underdog, a collaboration with the Jon Langford-led Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Hogan comes off like a combination of C&W-conscious torch singer, indie-pop/rock demigoddess, and that cool woman two apartments over with the funky record collection. This time out, however, the emphasis is on torchy, with song choices and arrangements that better showcase Hogan's spell-casting vocals as she alternates between sultry and sorrowful.

With Because It Feel Good consisting mostly of non-originals (like Country Underdog), Hogan claims works from an amazingly eclectic list of songwriters: Charlie Rich, Bill "Smog" Callahan, King Floyd (an atmospheric, this-close-to-a-breakdown "Please Don't Leave Me Lonely"), The Statler Brothers, Randy Newman and Atlanta homies the Lost Continentals (whose song, "Speedfreak Lullaby," sounds like a country-soul "To Sir, With Love"), to list a few. And the two originals, co-written by Hogan and Andy Hopkins, are perfect fits. "No, Bobby Don't" sounds like it just may have wandered in from '69 Memphis, and the marvelous "Sugarbowl," a tribute to the people who make shitty graveyard-shift jobs tolerable, hits just the right mix of sentimentality and smiles.

The backing instrumentation--spacious and occasionally spacy--is spot-on throughout, led by super-secret weapon Hopkins. His quietly reverb-a-riffic guitar creates the kind of warm sonic blanket that's made for crawling under for a chilly-afternoon makeout session or wrapping up in when you're left lonely.

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