Release Date: May 22, 2012
Record label: Bloodshot
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Post-Grunge
Memphis born, Mississippi raised and currently Austin-based, singer-songwriter Cory Branan has come a long way from the Lucero shout-out in their track “Tears Don’t Matter Much” that brought him on many a listener’s radar. Even back in 2003, Branan was no stranger to playing every gig he could get, rambling far and wide, opening for bands when he could and playing by himself when he couldn’t. Two criminally under-noticed records dropped on small Southern indies in his wake of that touring, (2002’s The Hell You Say and 2006’s 12 Songs) creating a buzz for our hero equal to the ones he had been known to tie on and the latter part of 2006 had Cory mentioning an imminent new record, but save for a split with Jon Snodgrass that dropped in 2009, recorded output has been sadly few and far between.
Mutt is right. Cory Branan is no purebred. He boasts no pedigree, no papers. Instead, he’s a stray who wanders in off the street, of mixed breed: Is he another confessional singer/songwriter? An alt-country straggler? A frat-rock folk-hero? A Memphis misfit? A Southern voice descended more from Clyde Edgerton and Larry Brown than from Ronnie Van Zandt? Truth is, he’s a bit of everything, hanging around on the edges of various genres and taking what he needs from each.
The unusual visual juxtapositions on the striking cover of singer/songwriter Cory Branan’s first full album in six years (and Bloodshot debut) reflect the conflicted, eclectic music inside. The topless woman with the imposing wolf mask mixes beauty with danger similar to how the opening solo acoustic guitar performance of “The Corner” radically shifts to the Thin Lizzy-styled ’70s hard rock of “Survivor Blues” that comes next. Elsewhere Branan’s acerbic, often humorous, always thought-provoking lyrics hover over melodies with Tom Waits styled clanky percussion and Klezmer clarinet (“The Snowman), lovely lap steel and piano ballads (“Freefall”) and the country version of “Survivor Blues” that closes the album on a far more reflective note than it began.
As the title suggests, there are a number of different musical genes comingling within this Mississippi-born singer-songwriter's debut for Chicago's venerable Bloodshot label. Squawking horns collide with strings, while Branan's vocals waver between heartsick troubadour and roadhouse rocker, in the spirit of his Memphis homies Lucero. It's not an entirely off-putting mix, but it's only after a few songs that one starts to get a handle on what Branan's up to.