Lumped in amongst musicians like Joey Kneiser, John Moreland and Austin Lucas, Cory Branan carries the mantle of your favorite artist’s favorite artist. Self-effacing to a fault, Branan plays up this also-ran distinction on his latest album, The No-Hit Wonder. As if proving a point, the album’s credits are a who’s-who of Americana: Jason Isbell, Caitlin Rose, Tim Easton and the aforementioned Lucas.
Honey-throated with a forked tongue, Branan’s orneriness is on display in “All the Rivers in Colorado” with its snickering meta-irony which plays on country tropes with its sing-along nod to John Denver:
All the rivers in Colorado
Couldn’t wash you off my mind
Not that I’ll try
Just the thought, though
On the album’s most poignant song, “Missing You Fierce,” Branan is a hayseed in the big city yearning for the love of home. Heart and hearth loom large on The No-Hit Wonder; from the ubiquitous road song “The Highway Home” to album closer “The Meantime Blues,” Branan craves the comfort of domesticity and its blanket of hope for the future.
It’s gonna get cold girl
I’m going gold with you
A little work on the last verse
Then I’ll come down to dinner
Covering a wide swath of sound, The No-Hit Wonder touches on zydeco on “Daddy was a Skywriter,” honkey tonk on “Sour Mash” with Branan writing a tour rider for his funeral, and the Spanish-inflected mood piece “All I Got and Gone.”
Lost in the mix underneath Branan’s vocals, his guests add volume as on the title track featuring Craig Finn and Steve Selvidge of the Hold Steady. Usurping his featured patrons on The No-Hit Wonder, Branan may never rise above their respective positions yet he has nonetheless reinforced his cult status by showing why he is so beloved.
Stream The No-Hit Wonder‘s title track below and purchase the album via Bloodshot Records.