Like libations, insurgent country is available in numerous flavors and potencies. On Beneath the Country Underdog, Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts serve listeners cocktails of light country that are comparable to wine coolers. They are sugary sweet and go down easy, but without corn whiskey’s strong wallop. The band’s sound is a brew of slow country rock with occasional guitar jangles, a touch of fiddle, and sparse horn accompaniment. All the songs are unhurried, and each has a standard delicate country sound accented by guitars, bass, pedal steel, and extended vocals. From the first guitar note, the record has echoes of Lone Justice. Additionally, Kelly Hogan’s vocals strongly resemble Maria McKee with gentle traces of Natalie Merchant. Peppered with horn accompaniment, the bouncy “I Don’t Believe In You” even has a rhythm similar to 10,000 Maniacs’ “What’s The Matter Here” plus a catchy, passionately sung chorus. Particularly when focusing on love (the album’s dominant theme), Hogan sings with much emotion. The record contains numerous covers, including Bobby Russell’s poetic “Sudden Stop” and Willie Nelson’s tearful “I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone,” both perfectly suited for those who like sobbing in their beers.

Categories: Music