Cory Branan needs no introduction in even the least educated of Americana music circles. The kid has been touring the country playing his heart out for the better part of a decade. Those who have seen his live show know how just close to literal the term “pouring his heart out” actually is. We’ve all been there, we’ve sang along with him and we all high-fived one another a couple of years ago when Bloodshot Records signed him because, god damnit, one of the good guys finally won, and in an ever small way, it felt like we did too.
Now I am gonna let you in on a little secret. I don’t like Cory Branan’s records. Would not ever miss a show. Own zero copies of his cds or mp3’s. I told him as much one night. I felt like his first two albums, To Hell You Say and 12 Songs, he tried to hard to capture his live show on cd and it felt forced. His Bloodshot debut, Mutt, got away from that but went so far away it could never resonate with me. In the 2 years since Mutt and No-Hit Wonder Cory got married and had a couple of kids resulting in a little less road time and a little more husband/dad time. Pretty dramatic changes in 2 years, the type of changes that alter outlooks, opinions and writers. Some writers come through worse, some come through better but none come out the same.
In this writer’s opinion, Cory came out the other end far improved. No-Hit Wonder, like Mutt before it, makes no effort to emulate Cory’s live persona and is pretty heavily produced. It has tight melodies, Cory’s signature lyrical craftsmanship, and a heavily dose of optimism in it. I am a really big fan of the music on this cd and I am as surprised as anyone else to be saying it.
I guess my point is, even if you haven’t been a Branan album fan before, No-Hit Wonder is worth a little ear time. It converted me. I love it, I’m not ashamed to admit it, and can prove it by deeming it Essential Listening.