American Roots Sessions Album Review: Cory Branan - "The No-Hit Wonder."

Cory Branan 
“The No Hit Wonder” (August 19th, 2014) 
(Bloodshot Records)
Rating: 5 out of 5 

Ok, right off the bat, I love “The No-Hit Wonder.” From the very first song, to the very last, this album is absolutely flawless—a masterpiece, really. 

Now with that out of the way… 

I consider Cory to be one of the greatest lyricist/songwriters of our generation, as well as a technical guitarist who plays to his own tempo. If you’ve never had the pleasure of catching Cory Branan perform live, do yourself a favor and make it to one of his shows, or at least check out his acoustic sessions and performances on Youtube. The mastery of his guitar, catchy melodies, and his incredible ability to draw you into his songs help create the best album that Cory has ever released, and the strongest indication that he’s in his prime and will be around for years and years to come. Having an all-star list of song collaborators (Jason Isbell, Craig Finn & Steve Selvidge, Tim Easton, Caitlin Rose, and Austin Lucas) on the record, and having support from the likes of Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan, helps as well! 

“The No-Hit Wonder” has a brighter, more optimistic feel than his previous Bloodshot Records release “Mutt,” and has a flow that allows this album to play uninterrupted from beginning to end. This album is decidedly “more country” than his previous albums as well, but don’t let “country” fool you—This album is rooted in different genres. Having grown up in Mississippi, Cory was exposed to a lot of different types of roots music: country, bluegrass, blues, rockabilly, but was also a part of that MTV generation. 

This album gets going with “You Make Me” featuring Jason Isbell, and doesn’t really let up until the honky tonk-ish “C’mon Shadow,” an incredibly fun song that helps break up the first half and second half of the record. “All The Rivers in Colorado” featuring Caitlin Rose and Austin Lucas is the most sing-along song on the album, and “The Highway Home” feature Jason Isbell epitomizes highway rock. “The Meantime Blues” is the stand-out song on the record, and unsurprisingly, it’s also the only song on the album that’s just him and his guitar, and is definitely this album’s “The Corner.”

Despite the album’s more optimistic feel, Cory is still conflicted and there are still songs about lost love and heartache, but he isn’t defined by them. This is Cory Branan at his absolute finest, and the irony of the album name isn’t lost on me—Each and every one of the songs on this album have the potential of being a hit. There’s only one othere album that has been released this year that has made me feel the way this album has, and that is Chuck Ragan’s “Till Midnight,” someone that Cory is very familiar with having also shared the same stage together on The Revival Tour. Now that Cory has reached that echelon, it’ll be fun to see what he comes up with next.

-Thomas Landaverde


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