I Like To Keep Myself In Pain
Anti- Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/13/2012
Atlanta's Kelly Hogan has had an eventful career thus far. In the 1990s, she sang in The Jody Grind, but the band dissolved after a car accident that took two members’ lives. Following that she had a brief stint at theater, but soon went back to music as part of theRock*A* Teens in the mid '90s. Though her solo debut was way back in 1996, it wasn't till the 2000s that people started taking notice of this young woman’s unique talent as a singer and songwriter. Currently employed as a member of Neko Case's backing band, Hogan still finds time for her own work, this time taking up company with the always impressive Anti- label.
With an all-star cast of legends contributing songs for Hogan, including M Ward, Andrew Bird, Stephen Merritt, and Robyn Hitchcock among others, it's no surprise that this is a career highlight for Hogan. Her soulful, warm, and often country-esque voice makes it all too easy to become infatuated with these songs, and her interpretations shine through with a tremendous amount of sincerity and emotion.
Hogan takes on many different textures within these songs, though considering the different genres each of the songwriters stem from, it only seems logical. “We Can't Have Nice Things” delivers traces of pop, soul and country complemented by a soaring chorus. The title track has Hogan taking up company with a Spanish guitar and Hammond organ that yields a distinct tone that matches the powerful and contemplative mood of the disc. The album highlight has to be “Ways Of This World,” a song from the legendary Vic Chesnutt, who saw an untimely and tragic death. With the melodic guitar work and playful percussion, Hogan pulls off a vocal performance of serious magnitude, resulting in a truly cathartic, ebullient display of emotion.
Though she may be singing other people’s work, there's little doubt the subject matter rings true for Hogan. Pain, mostly the kind inflicted by another person, is a common theme here, and a marriage gone awry is also discussed. On the only track penned by Hogan, “Golden,” she pays homage to her boss and friend Neko Case, a fitting tribute to one seminal artist from another artist who is seemingly on her way to a similar trajectory.
Not merely another disc of covers, Hogan truly makes each song her own, reworks them with her timeless, thoughtful vision. Though it may have taken a decade of obscurity, Hogan has truly come into her own as an artist. If there's any justice in the world, I Like To Keep Myself In Pain will propel Hogan to international fame.