Cory Branan's sound is best described as an amalgamation of different styles -- a…
- Posted on May 23rd 2012 3:00PM by Eric R. Danton
Joshua Black Wilkins
"It's graspable, you know? Like, what kind of music does Tom Waits play? He gets to do what he wants, he pulls from whatever form, roots music or klezmer or whatever," Branan tells Spinner. "So I was like, 'Yep, that's what I do.' It's just a big Cuisinart, a big blender of stuff."
Inside that big blender you'll find elements of blues, folk, country and rock 'n' roll, paired with vivid lyrics at once poignant and wry. Waits is an influence, of course, and so are Leonard Cohen and especially John Prine, the veteran singer and songwriter who's been a country/folk cult favorite since the early 1970s.
"I don't know how I missed them until my mid-20s, but they were like the Holy Grail," says Branan, a Mississippi native.
They inspired him to stop playing Neil Young covers at open-mic nights and start writing his own songs. Soon enough, he was recording them, and he released his debut, The Hell You Say, in 2002. Mutt, Branan's third album, is his first solo release in six years. It's also his first thematic album.
"The last album was called 12 Songs, just to emphasize that they were just 12 fucking songs," he says. "This is the first time where I've made an album with songs that tried to throw light on the other songs."
They're tunes about repeating cycles, and together they form a sort of narrative.
"Not necessarily a straightforward narrative, chronological, but if you put them in a circle, there area lot of paired songs on the album," he says. "Some of the songs are very aware of the other songs."
The dozen songs on Mutt grew out Branan's itinerant ways: He's lived in a lot of different places, each of which seeps into the music he writes.
"I know L.A. had a lot of effect on this record, the couple of years I spent in L.A., and that was seven or eight years ago," says Branan, who lives in Nashville now. "There's a lot of me in it, a lot of highway in it, a lot of Brooklyn, L.A. and especially Mississippi in it. It's a barbed little nasty record."
Speaking of highways, Branan spends a lot of time on tour. He's played on the Warped festival's Country Throwdown tour, and opened for Dashboard Confessional. If that sounds like an odd pairing, Branan says it turned out surprisingly well.
"When Chris Carrabba first asked me, I was like, 'Are you sure you want me to go out? I don't know if it's going to work,' and he said, 'I'm not sure it's going to work, either,'" Branan recalls. "But what I found is that his fans are very lyric-oriented, and I play solo, so there's nothing aesthetically for them to balk at, except for who's this redneck yelling? I think that's the best perk about touring solo, is a song is a song."
Mutt is out now on Bloodshot Records.