Cory Branan “The No Hit Wonder”

Cory Branan – “The No Hit Wonder”
It’s arguable if we really need to review this album, instead you perhaps just need to read this quote from Frank Turner:

“Simply one of the best unsung songwriters out there; his stuff is about as close to perfect as you can get, and it mystifies me why he’s not a household name.”

That alone should be enough to make sure you rush out and buy this album. In case you need a bit more convincing, then you will be interested to know that it is a “celebratory anthem of the world-weary, undefeated underdogs of the world, and a coming to terms with the cards life has dealt you”.

The album opens with the brilliant “You Make Me”. It’s a song which is made to accompany drinking, fighting, dancing and loving – with the order of those activities to be decided upon by the listener! It is followed by the title track which, not surprisingly, is exactly the kind of song that you wish was a hit. Having said that, given the huge success of Frank Turner here in the UK, then we can have some hope that Cory could indeed have some ‘hits’. There are certainly a number of tracks on this album that deserve to bring him some wider success rather than just praise from ‘those in the know’. “The Only You” has an acoustic almost country punk to it, whilst “The Highway Home” is a perfect blend of country/Americana with a more modern rock sound. Given the title, it is no surprise to learn that it would make a great driving song.

There is a change of pace on “Sour Mash” where we enter Johnny Cash territory on a song which is in a country/rockabilly style. Any assumptions about the album are then turned on their heads by “C’mon Shadow” which has an almost vaudeville/country feel to it, that may well sound weird but it works!

We’re back to the more ‘expected’ sound on tracks such as “All The Rivers In Colorado” and “Daddy Was A Skywriter”, although the second of these has a bit of a rockabilly feel to it. There is a more up-tempo beat to “Missing You Fierce” which will have you thinking more along the lines of The Replacements. In contrast, “All I Got Is Gone” is a surprisingly straight forward gentle acoustic strumming ballad with an almost waltz like quality to it.

This album is quite deceptive, on first listen it comes across as perhaps yet another acoustic singer/songwriter influenced by a dash of country and punk. However, it actually has more diversity and is a great blend of styles and influences. It has a subtlety about it which means that you need to give it a couple of plays to fully appreciate it. Whatever your mood, there will be a song on here to match it. It therefore ends up being an album, like Chuck Ragan’s most recent one, that you will frequently revisit and rediscover.

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