Like all good country music, Cory Branan is hard, if not impossible, to define. That’s probably because you could argue he weighs equally into at least three other genres: he’s got a rollicking rock ‘n’ roll straightforwardness, a quick-witted punk-infused grittiness and the evocative songwriting prowess of a folk troubadour. On his fourth album, The No-Hit Wonder, Branan seems able to effortlessly bring it all together, creating a cohesive juggernaut of a record that’s every bit as sharp and clever as it it melodic, catchy, and downright fun to listen to.
Cory Branan is perhaps best described (even if it's a cliché, and more than a little cumbersome) as a songwriter's singer-songwriter. He writes impeccable, evocative, insightful lyrics and pairs them with no frills Americana formulas that fit like an old pair of boots. Other songwriters worship him — Chuck Ragan has called him "the greatest songwriter of our generation" — and who wouldn't want to play finger-style guitar the way he does? But, despite all of this attention from his peers, Branan has remained invisible to most outside a certain segment of the music industry.
It takes a lot to stand out in any major music market, but it’s especially tough to be a country artist trying to pave your way in Nashville. Cory Branan has spent nearly 15 years plugging away around Music City, building a sparkling reputation with his brand of punk-infused country. His new album and second with Chicago’s Bloodshot Records, The No-Hit Wonder, is brimming with vivid and infectious songwriting.
The fourth album from Cory Branan (and his second for Bloodshot), No-Hit Wonder features as its title song the story of some hapless musician who wanders from one pitiless venue to another, struggling to find an audience that's willing to hear him warble someone else's songs. Clearly the tune isn't autobiographical; if Branan is a long way from stardom, he's a gifted tunesmith who has a way with both words and melodies, and unlike many "songwriter's songwriters," the guy is also a gifted performer with a fine voice and the right instincts about what to do with it. Branan has plenty of tales to tell on No-Hit Wonder, from the heartfelt homage to the woman he loves on "You Make Me" to the heartfelt homage to the bourbon he drinks on "Sour Mash," with detours along the way for the tattoos his new gal doesn't have on "The Only You," the rugged individualism of his family on "Daddy Was a Skywriter," and the lonesome blues of "C'mon Shadow.