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    Bit to Do

    Cory Branan
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    Cory Branan will open for indie favorite Justin Townes Earle at Headliners this Friday night, and if  you haven't heard of him, this show should be a fine introduction to a songwriter whose most enthusiastic fans are other songwriters. 

    Branan is a native of Southhaven, MS and has several releases under his belt, starting with "The Hell You Say" and "12 Songs" on Madjack Records. He switched to Bloodshot Records in 2012 with "Mutt" and now tours behind his most recent album, "No-Hit Wonder," just out in August of this year. Over his career, Branan has managed to catch the attention of Rolling Stone; he's been compared (somewhat mystifyingly to me) to Ryan Adams; and he's made appearances on the late-night talk shows. In short, he's been poised to hit the Big Time for more than a decade without ever quite breaking through. Lord knows the musical landscape is littered with extremely talented artists on whom fickle Fortune never turns her gaze. And while that is frustrating, if not devastating, to some musicians, there are artists who measure their worth, not by making the cover of Rolling Stone or getting recognized in the grocery store, but by continuing to make music for the love of what they do. For those unsung heroes of the road, Branan's title song on "No-Hit Wonder" serves as an anthem: 

    Years of living blood to string

    Years of living hand to mouth

    Years just getting gig to gig

    East to West, North to South

    Two refrains in this song -- "It is what it is" and "Blood to string" -- repeat and finally weave together to sum up the life of the no-hit wonder -- Branan's weathered voice layering over the unmistakable keen of Craig Finn's. The rollicking tempo underneath the darkly, bittersweet words is something of a hallmark for Branan, who loves to defy expectation and uses his lyrics like a whiplash. Just when you think he's headed down some sentimental country path, like comparing a new lover to an old one in "The Only You," he leavens it with comic cynicism: 

    I sprayed our names across the bridge

    So the whole damn town would know.

    That bridge is gone, but some recall

    That “What’s-his-face hearts So-n-so”.

    If you are a person who loves the well-turned lyric, you'll enjoy digging into these clever songs. You probably won't be disappointed in the music either, which features Branan on guitar and some other heavy-hitters making guest appearances: Robbie Turner on steel guitar (Waylon Jennings, Charlie Rich), drummer John Radford (Justin Townes Earle), Dave Cohen on keys and accordion, and guitarist Audley Freed (Black Crowes). Backing vocals, other than Finn, come from Jason Isbell, Austin Lucas, Caitlin Rose, Steve Selvidge, and Tim Easton. 

    See Branan open for Justin Townes Earle this Friday, November 7 at Headliners Music hall. The show is 18 and over, $20 for tickets in advance.

    Check out this stripped-down version of "Highway Home" from No-Hit Wonder

    [Photo Credit: Nicole Kibert]

    Selena Frye's picture

    About Selena Frye

    I'm a writer and editor living in Louisville since 1996. I'm originally from the Blue Ridge of Virginia.

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