Most of the 13 songs on Kelly Hogan's new album, her first in over a decade, were written for her by famous songwriters who also happen to be her friends. The jaw-dropping list includes M. Ward, Vic Chestnutt, Jon Langford, Robyn Hitchcock, Andrew Bird and the Magnetic Fields, among others. Her backing band, meanwhile, features R&B legends Booker T. Jones and James Gadson, NRBQ's Scott Ligon and Gabriel Roth of the Dap Kings.
Besides having friends in high places, Hogan, who fronted several Atlanta and Chicago bands and has been in Neko Case's since 1998, has a versatile voice that moves easily between the polished album's classic pop, country, soul and jazz numbers. That diversity leaves it without a consistent mood or conceptual through-line, however, and while Hogan's singing voice is, like the album, pleasant enough, it's not especially distinct or memorable.
The songwriting is - no surprise - strong, with one of the standout's being Hogan's own Golden, a heartfelt country tune written for and about Case.
Top track: Golden