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Kelly Hogan & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts | Beneath The Country Underdog (Bloodshot Records)
'Let this day be mine' she pleads at the end of Crackers Rule and I feel her wish will be granted soon, it's long overdue. Ten years ago, in New York, I watched in awe as the Jody Grind played. They tackled every genre of music with their own songs and cover versions with no telling the difference between them. The singer, a Miss Kelly Hogan, moulded her warm voice around every tune to make it hers and showed a great joy in singing that entranced the audience. I was smitten. A decade later and time's not been kind, with two of the band killed in a road accident and the vocalist giving up music after a 1996 solo album. She moved to Chicago and took up a job with Bloodshot records, which now means that they have a vacancy in their promotion department, for her love of singing has returned. One thing the years haven't changed is that voice and it's ability to capture a song. Only three of the eleven tracks here are her own, but I defy you to tell which ones. Each song is given a loving treatment, from the rocking duet of Wild Mountain Berries to the swooning croon of Whispering Pines, the latter making you reach for your Band album to check the writing credits don't say Hogan. The most obvious comparison would be Patsy Cline, but Kelly doesn't confine herself to country, despite the album title. There's traces of jazz, soul and even gospel in there, which might confuse some, but marks her out as a remarkable singer. The only problem with the album is that it's too short. I could listen to her sing for days on end, but at lest she's back and, hopefully, for good, for here's an underdog that's bound to be a favourite.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000