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The No-Hit Wonder


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  • The fourth album from Cory Branan (and his second for Bloodshot), No-Hit Wonder features as its title song the story of some hapless musician who wanders from one pitiless venue to another, struggling to find an audience that's willing to hear him warble someone else's songs. Clearly the tune isn't autobiographical; if Branan is a long way from stardom, he's a gifted tunesmith who has a way with both words and melodies, and unlike many "songwriter's songwriters," the guy is also a gifted performer with a fine voice and the right instincts about what to do with it. Branan has plenty of tales to tell on No-Hit Wonder, from the heartfelt homage to the woman he loves on "You Make Me" to the heartfelt homage to the bourbon he drinks on "Sour Mash," with detours along the way for the tattoos his new gal doesn't have on "The Only You," the rugged individualism of his family on "Daddy Was a Skywriter," and the lonesome blues of "C'mon Shadow." Branan's roots are clearly in country-leaning sounds -- "All the Rivers in Colorado" could have found a comfortable home on C&W radio sometime before 1975 -- but the man also has a real feel for rock & roll, as revealed in "Missing You Fierce" and "You Make Me." The jazzy acoustic arrangement of "All I Got and Gone" and the thunderous shuffle of "The No-Hit Wonder" point to the eclecticism of Branan's musical vision, as well as the skill of his accompanists (including Jason Isbell and Tim Easton). And the clean, uncluttered production by Paul Ebersold points to the music's strengths without getting in the way. Cory Branan may not have any hits -- yet -- but No-Hit Wonder shows that's sure not for lack of talent or a voice that makes his songs go down easy. ~ Mark Deming
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