Cory Branan is perhaps the most unheralded man holding a guitar today. Maybe you’ve heard about him if you’ve attended any of Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour gigs or followed the Nashville music scene. But sometimes, his name gets lost in the shuffle.
It’s a shame too because while Branan has technically never had a “hit” to hang his hat on, there’s no question that the guy can write the absolute hell out of a song. For examples of his lyrical prowess, check out the triumphantly escapist “Survivor Blues,” the proudly self-effacing “Bad Man,” and the old-fashioned love yarn-spinner “The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis.” Branan’s live show brilliantly brings his deftly penned tunes to life too as he furiously strums the line between love and hate with his guitar, often looking like he is downright intent on popping a string or two. And to top it off, aesthetically, he’s got this whole handsomer, more brooding version of Charlie Day thing going on. But for whatever reason, Branan is not yet a household name.
That all said, the title track of his new album The No-Hit Wonder may very well be more of Branan’s trademark third-person storytelling. Or, it could possibly be a subtle dig at his own status as a musician in the wings. Branan sings, “Years of living hand to mouth / Years just getting gig to gig / East to west, north to south / Well he could’ve been making a killing, peddling a dream / But if you found him at all / You found him just scraping a living / Blood to string.” When recording the track, Branan enlisted the help of the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and Steve Selvidge, who give the song an added layer of recognizability.
So maybe “The No-Hit Wonder” will put Branan on the map. Maybe it won’t. But it’s still a damn fine song, regardless of selling power. Or, as Branan sings, “It is what it is.”
Pre-order the album which will be available from Bloodshot Records on August 19 and watch Cory play the fuck out of his guitar in person…
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