One of America’s Unsung Lyricists and Storytellers Strikes Gold.
Anything released on Chicago’s Bloodshot Records is bound to jump to the top of our ‘To Do’ list at RMHQ; and this follow up to one of our favourite albums of 2014, The No-Hit Wonder went there on merit.
For the uninitiated Cory Branan is the embodiment of what we know as Americana……he is first and foremost a storyteller, that uses whatever musical genre that springs to mind to back up his worldly wise lyrics and the end result is always fascinating, interesting and memorable.
Brannan’s fourth album starts with a jaunty Celtic Country romp that features some wonderful couplets……”Whatcha gonna do with all that youth/Just because it’s brutal don’t make it truth,” among them.
For a three-piece they surely kick up quite a racket and the use of a Xylophone might be a first for me in Americana…..unless you know otherwise.
This is followed by a more traditional bittersweet Countryesque love song, Imogene but the imaginative way Branan twists his words and feelings certainly isn’t from Bakersfield or Music Row.
The short and sweet (plus bittersweet) songs on this 14 track album come thick and fast; never letting the listener settle as each song tells its own valuable story and demands your attention at the expense of what came before.
Just when you think you have a handle on Branan’s train of thought he throws in a beautifully dark ballad Cold Blue Moonlight, that conjures up memories of Chris Isaak; then immediately follows this with the contentious punk rocker Another Nightmare in America.
The dramatic story in that latter song has Branan singing from the viewpoint of a ‘racist killer cop’….uncomfortable – yes, but essential listening.
Later Branan blew my mind with his exquisite acoustic guitar playing on Equinox; and the song itself ain’t half bad either.
As we draw towards the end Branan lobs in a musical hand-grenade with another Punk Rocker, Visiting Hours. Unlike most other American Punk music, there’s a great story in among the fiery guitars and punchy drums.
We have to spin back to the beginning, track two actually for our favourite song here…..Blacksburg. A horn section that would do the E Street Band proud coupled with a tightly wrapped love song combine to give us one of the finest Country Rockers I or you have heard in donkey’s years and really shows the world what a great songwriter Cory Branan is.
ADIOS finally closes with the beautiful Country-Folk of My Father Was an Accordion Player. Rolling piano, tsch-tsch drumming, gently strummed bass and of course an obligatory accordion solo coupled with a singer-guitarist paying homage to his late departed father is the perfect way to close this Minor Masterpiece.
Released April 7th 2017