Kelly Hogan has triumphed over tragedy and excelled in her singing career, even as she tried to put it behind her. In the early '90s, Hogan was the sultry frontwoman with the alt-country/cocktail act Jody Grind, an Atlanta quartet with a press kit full of great reviews and a line of major labels waiting to offer contracts. Just days into Jody Grind's 1992 tour in support of its second album, the band's van flipped, killing the drummer and bassist. Hogan ultimately decided to put her singing career on hold, relocate to Chicago, and find a job with no connection to the music industry. Much to her chagrin, her first and best job offer came from Bloodshot Records, which was in desperate need of a publicist. Hogan began working with the eclectic stable of Bloodshot artists, which eventually led to some interesting vocal gigs (the Waco Brothers, John Wesley Harding, and Alejandro Escovedo) as well as her first solo album, The Whistle Only Dogs Can Hear
. Hogan's professional friendship with Mekons leader Jon Langford led to a more personal friendship (she baby-sat for Langford and his wife's son), and finally Langford offered Hogan the services of one of his side projects, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, to make any kind of record she wanted to make. With a handful of originals and a bracing selection of covers, Hogan and the Cosmonauts created 1999's amazing Beneath the Country Underdog
, a logical extension of her Jody Grind and Rock-A-Teens experiences. On Because It Feel Good
, Hogan's latest album for Bloodshot, she adds a dash of soul into her already rich country/pop mix. Guests include ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper Andrew Bird and pedal steel whiz Jon Rauhouse. She'll also be contributing to Bloodshot's planned Wanda Jackson tribute next year. For a woman who quit the business, Hogan has a full dance card.