Track This: Cory Branan's "The No-Hit Wonder"
Branan was the unknown variable, and we found ourselves transfixed beyond expectation. He had heartfelt lyrics, drunken amiability, and a penchant for damn good storytelling, complete with a catchy rhythm style that got us dancing. He was all over the map, and drunkenness was obviously part of his act, but so was entertaining. He fit into the tour because he has such an original live act. More known for playing with bands like Lucero and not part of the punk scene, he was an anomaly, but such a good one. There is punk, nay pure rock 'n' roll energy, in his songs.
His albums are very good, but they never capture this live energy. They are often better produced, more mannered, less rollicking affairs. His new record, The No-Hit Wonder attempts to remedy this situation and does a damn good job of it, focusing more on Branan's voice and songs than additional instrumentation. I still recommend any Ben Nichols and Cory Branan live sets for great examples of Branan's tempestuous live show, but you can't go wrong here. The No-Hit Wonder captures much of this energy, and it's a damn good set of songs, some new and some road-honed. "Sour Mash" has been a road weary battle horse for years, and it doesn't disappoint. Same goes for "Daddy Was a Skywriter" with it's well-worn bluegrass shuffle. The album also contains backing from other great songwriters and singers, like Austin Lucas and Jason Isbell to name just a few.
The title track does a great job of synthesizing all that makes Branan such a talent. It's another road song with tight country rhythms and clear and bright vocals. He sounds spryer here than on Mutt, more content with his lot in life. He sings, "Years of living hand in mouth, years just getting gig to gig / east to west, north to south / while he could of been making a killing, peddling the dream / but if you found him at all, you found him just scraping a living." Is this a story of Branan's career or just another road song? No, it's just too damn jaunty. And the hits just keep coming for Branan. Each record reaches a wider audience. Each song is better than the last.
Listen to the song
Buy the record at https://www.bloodshotrecords.com/album/no-hit-wonder or a fine local record store near you.
Another equally awesome live set with Ben Nichols from Captains Dead.