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Cory Branan - The No Hit Wonder Album Cover

Cory Branan - The No Hit Wonder

Reviewed by
8.8
Cory Branan - The No-Hit Wonder
August 23, 2014
Record Label: Bloodshot
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
More albums need to be like this.

Now four albums into his career, Cory Branan is in the pocket. A happily married father of two, the Nashville-based songwriter has spent time on Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour and has also logged countless hours on the road, very much living the life of a troubadour. His latest album, The No-Hit Wonder, is another top-notch effort from a songwriter who very rarely, if ever, mails it in.

The album opens with the laid back, breezy effort “You Make Me,” a pleasant jangle into Tom Petty-esque terrain. Ostensibly a love song, “You Make Me” is a sturdy and confident way to open an album that very rarely, if ever, disappoints. Branan ups the sonic ante on the dual guitar rocker “The No-Hit Wonder,” a titular tongue-in-cheek look at the life of a starving artist.

Branan’s ability to poke fun at his profession and not take himself so seriously is one of the many charms that make him such a compelling listen. That sense of humor is revisited in the slightly comical, slightly sweet “The Only You,” a piano-tinged view of life with a mistress. Easily the most complete effort of the album’s opening triumvirate “The Only You” is Branan at his very best.

A firm believer in the true Nashville (as opposed to the new Nashville) Branan offers up his first dose of twang on the alcohol-fueled “Sour Mash,” a brief ditty with a sterling lead guitar and the kind of ambiance that seems tailor made for a Texas roadhouse. Arguably the album’s only filler track is the ukelele-backed “C’mon Shadow,” a gnomic hammock song that is equal parts languid and loose. “C’mon Shadow” however serves as the turning point for The No-Hit Wonder and serves as the prologue to the disc’s power-packed second act.

Bolstered by a burly and anthemic chorus, “Missing You Fierce” is a hard-charging rocker and proof positive that Branan still has a lot of kick in him. A sure-fire crowd pleaser “Missing You Fierce” is hands down one of 2014’s most impressive tracks. Revisiting the hazy environs of “C’mon Shadow” and the twang of “Sour Mash” is the whiskey-soaked ballad “All I Got and Gone.” Songs like this are the exact reason why Branan is so revered by hordes of fans and critics alike.

And yet, that’s not even Branan at his best. That title belongs to the can’t miss perfection that is “All the Rivers in Colorado.” A jubilant toast to an ex with armfuls of shalalas and pedal steel, “All The Rivers,” is the kind of song that would make country icons like Merle Haggard and the late Ray Price quite proud. If it’s not the best country song of 2014, it absolutely has to be in the Top 10.

Continuing with the trend of keeping things light and loose, “Daddy Was a Skywriter” is a frenetic knee-slapper that much like “Missing You Fierce,” seems destined to be a crowd pleaser. The strength of “Daddy Was a Skywriter,” is to prove how talented Branan’s session band truly is. In the hands of more inexperienced musicians, “Daddy Was a Skywriter” would certainly falter. In the hands of a seasoned veteran like Branan, it most assuredly does not.

The No-Hit Wonder closes with “The Highway Home” and “Meantime Blues.” The former is a total joy, a guitar-driven road song that lifts skyward, buttressed by a hopeful resolution, a triumphant message and a gorgeous instrumental outro. On the contrary, “Meantime Blues” is a spartan folk song, a tonic to Branan’s masterful 2002 debut The Hell You Say.

Much like Robbie Fulks and label mate Bobby Bare Jr., Branan is a supremely confident songwriter who is not too proud to poke fun at both his craft and his profession. That sense of levity makes The No-Hit Wonder worth many repeated listens. Easily one of the best country albums of 2014, The No-Hit Wonder is proof positive that Branan is one of Nashville’s most accomplished musicians.

8.8/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
10:21 AM on 09/02/14
#2
derekjd
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Great review. I'm digging this record. The guest spots make it even better.
07:04 PM on 09/02/14
#3
Craig Manning
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One of my favorite albums of the year. "Highway Home" is so good.
11:41 AM on 09/03/14
#4
HappyTheHippie
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Either change the website's domain name or find a way to let us know genre before we waste our time.

Sad thing is you know that in order to go from a fan of punk/alt rock to country, it's to impress friends/girls riding in your car. Please respect the fact that most of us don't care about that shit.
01:26 PM on 09/03/14
#5
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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Either change the website's domain name or find a way to let us know genre before we waste our time.

Sad thing is you know that in order to go from a fan of punk/alt rock to country, it's to impress friends/girls riding in your car. Please respect the fact that most of us don't care about that shit.
Go fuck yourself.
01:35 PM on 09/03/14
#6
derekjd
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Either change the website's domain name or find a way to let us know genre before we waste our time.

Sad thing is you know that in order to go from a fan of punk/alt rock to country, it's to impress friends/girls riding in your car. Please respect the fact that most of us don't care about that shit.
You're not important enough for an entire web site to change its posting policies in response to your personal preferences. Nobody elected you the speaker for every user on ap.net. You have every right to choose not to read a review if it is for a record, artist, or genre which you do not like. If you choose to spend your time reading a single album review, and it ruins your day or experience to this degree, then there is a lot you, my friend, need to figure out.
For now, please do not call someone's hard work a waste of your time because you don't like the subject matter. You are a person, and I respect you for that. But you're not that important. Nobody is.
01:11 AM on 09/05/14
#7
relientkid777
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I just logged into my profile for the first time in two years to repeat Craig's message. Please, go fuck yourself, Happythehippie.

Everyone else, please listen to this album. Cory is a rare talent.
05:11 AM on 09/05/14
#8
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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You're not important enough for an entire web site to change its posting policies in response to your personal preferences. Nobody elected you the speaker for every user on ap.net. You have every right to choose not to read a review if it is for a record, artist, or genre which you do not like. If you choose to spend your time reading a single album review, and it ruins your day or experience to this degree, then there is a lot you, my friend, need to figure out.
For now, please do not call someone's hard work a waste of your time because you don't like the subject matter. You are a person, and I respect you for that. But you're not that important. Nobody is.
Good job being more eloquent than I wanted to be. Haha
08:22 AM on 09/05/14
#9
derekjd
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Good job being more eloquent than I wanted to be. Haha
You listened to that Maroon 5 album so I didn't have to. This was the least I could do.
07:45 PM on 09/06/14
jdaniels
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Cory Branan opened for Gaslight last time they were in Nashville. Great stuff!!

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