When: Mon., May 28, 6:30 p.m. 2012
Few contemporary singers move as easily between soul and country music as Kelly Hogan, and it's not just because she appreciates the close relationship between the two traditions—she also has a great talent for straddling pathos and humor. On her first album in 11 years, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (due June 5 on Anti-), she pours herself into a collection of modern songs—the only vintage number is the closer, Charlie Rich's soulful "Pass on By," which his wife, Margaret Ann, wrote in the mid-70s—that's so diverse I can hardly think of anyone else who could persuasively tackle them all. (She only wrote one tune on the record, but her greatest skills are interpreting and curating material.) Backed by a killer band that includes organist Booker T. Jones, bassist Gabe Roth (the Dap-Kings), drummer James Gadson (Charles Wright, Dyke & the Blazers), and Chicago's own Scott Ligon on guitar and piano, Hogan dissolves the spaces between genres rather than standing astride them. On the title tune, by Robyn Hitchcock, she puts a Bakersfield spin on a melody reminiscent of Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and blackly funny lyrics about embracing misery. On "Golden," written for longtime friend Neko Case, she sings about sticking to doing what you love, even when it's a grind and success seems out of reach, and her lightness of phrase softens the harsh truths. My favorite tracks are the darkest ones, such as Vic Chestnutt's "Ways of the World," a song about lost innocence that brings out the Dusty Springfield in Hogan's voice, and Robbie Fulks's "Whenever You're Out of My Sight," where she imparts a sweet Bobbie Gentry vibe to lyrics about debilitating jealousy ("I love you more than I trust you"). For the first of three area shows over the next two weeks—the others are at SPACE on Fri 6/8 and at FitzGerald's on Sat 6/9—Hogan is supported by Ligon, guitarist Jim Elkington, drummer Joe Camarillo, and bassist Casey McDonough. —Peter Margasak Scott Lucas & the Married Men open.