I was fortunate enough to catch a show Cory Branan at White Water Tavern in Little Rock, AR not too long after the release of his current record, “Mutt” (It’s his first on Bloodshot Records.). Like, “Mutt,” the show was full of great moments but a little difficult to sum up. Branan is just not an easy guy to categorize. If you came to show after hearing just the opening track of the album,”The Corner,” you might be expecting some quiet singer-songwriter kind of show. Then again, if you only heard the second track, “Survivor Blues,” you might be expecting something closer to punk rock. And if you listened to “Yesterday,” which Branan has described as in the vain of John Cougar Mellencamp, you would certainly expect something else. It’s unquestionably southern but not too country. As Branan has put it, “I’m from Mississippi and you can’t wash that off, but I’m more throw-down than I am country.” That probably describes it as well as anything else. Branan is a bit all over the place, and it’s refreshing because there is a real confidence in his delivery, as well as a strong lyrical touch (The album starts with, “Down on the corner of what I want and what I tend to get, day-drinking and dreaming of you I let the ashtray smoke my last cigarette.”). There may not be one sound to point to, but there is an attitude.
That attitude set the tone for the show, as well. Even his more singer-songwriter stuff had something of a punk rock bent — even though the show was just Branan with an acoustic guitar. Some songs are played at a frenetic pace (like “Girl Named Go”), but even on those slower songs (like “The Corner”), he fingerpicks with such an intensity that it looks like it’d hurt. I still don’t know quite how to categorize, and that may be the best reason to catch a show. I guess he just sounds like Cory Branan.
Branan has a few dates in the south in late September, and then he goes across the pond for October and November. Check out his show, and if you want a taste of the album, you can get a free download of the humorous, “Bad Man” by going to www.corybranan.com (It’s on the tour date page.).