While she spent the majority of her life as the main back-up singer for Neko Case and many other artists, Kelly Hogan is now ready to take the stage on her own. Her new solo album I Like to Keep Myself in Pain is anything but what the title insinuates. The genuine sense of yearning and passion in Hogan’s voice is contagious while the lyrics themselves are solemnly relatable. The seamless blend of country, pop, and soul in both the voice and instrumentation is a rather fascinating notion. Although you may not exactly know what to make of it, this genre experimentation does good things to the feel-good spots of your brain.
One particular reason why this album is such a special feat is because it has the support of several other notable musicians. Artists such as Andrew Bird, Vic Chestnutt, the Magnetic Fields, M. Ward, Handsome Family, Robyn Hitchcock and others wrote the lyrics toward the bulk of the album, with the exception of “Golden” written by Hogan herself. All this aside, she has a pretty remarkable vocal talent that certainly doesn’t go unnoticed on this record. While the tunes themselves symbolize her valuable presence in the musical lives of the musicians noted above, Hogan doesn’t fall short of exclaiming her appreciation for Neko Case in one line from “Golden,” “Show ‘em what you’re made of.”
Overall, this album is a hauntingly romantic one filled with psychological depth and realism and its versatility can’t be anything but welcomed. The song “We Can’t Have Nice Things” in particular showcases an honest and simple approach to acknowledging that we can’t always get what we want. The irony of this song and most of the album entirely is that although the lyrics may be slightly unsettling, the instrumentation and melodies point to something far different: positivity or hope, even. Take the song “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain” in which Hogan proclaims “I like to keep myself in pain, even when the sun is high”. The tune or resonance is beach-like and easy, not strained or hard. Throughout the entire record, this constant juxtaposition between easy and unable to bear creates a unique and meaningful synopsis of what it means to live. At the same time, the displayed strength and passion of Hogan’s voice is meant to display the same vitality that we should all live with every day.
Tags: Amanda Hanna, kelly hogan, Kelly Hogan - I Like to Keep Myself in Pain album review, Reviews