Sunday January 16, 2022 - Cory Branan
ADIOS is Cory Branans death record. Not the cheeriest of openings, but like all of Branans mercurial work, its probably not what you think. As funny and defiant as it is touching and sad, this self-dubbed losers survival kit doesnt spare its subjects or the listener.
Not even Branans deceased father is let off the hook. In the tender homage The Vow he drolly cites his fathers favorite banality thats what you get for thinking as probably not the best lesson for kids. For most songwriters that would be the punchline but Branan pushes through words and, in his fathers actions, finds a kind of genius in the effortless way he just did.
Not all the death on ADIOS is literal mortality. Imogene is sung from the wreckage of a love that once poked fun at the pain, stoked the sun in the rain but ends with the urgent call to act on the embers, ash wont remember the way back to fire.
The trademark lyrical agility is mirrored sonically. Never a genre loyalist, ADIOS finds Branan (much like his musically restless heroes Elvis Costello and Tom Waits) coloring outside the lines in sometimes startling shades of fuzz and twang. While unafraid to play it arrow-straight when called for (The Vow, Equinox, Dont Go), ADIOS veers wildly from the Buddy Holly-esque rave up I Only Know (sung with punk notables Laura Jane Grace and Dave Hause), through the swampy Walls, MS to the Costello-like new wave of Visiting Hours.
The blistering punk of Another Nightmare in America bops along daring listeners to Look away, look away, move along, nothing to see here (the song is written from the point of view of a racist killer cop). And as the mourning singer on Cold Blue Moonlight shifts from paralysis to panic, the songs jazzy drone shifts to an almost Sabbath fury. The tonal shifts are always deliberate and not just simple genre hopping; while the turns can be jarring you can trust Branan to take you somewhere unexpected.
The 14-song album was self-produced and recorded in the spring of 2016 at Tweed Studios in Oxford, MS with a tight three piece: Branan on lead vocals and guitar (both electric and acoustic); Robbie Crowell (formerly of Deer Tick) on drums and percussion, keys, and horns; and James Haggs Haggerty on bass. Additionally, Amanda Shires contributes on fiddle and vocals, and Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and Dave Hause provide guest vocals.
Cory Branan has four previous full-length releases: The Hell You Say (2002, Madjack Records), 12 Songs (2006, Madjack), Mutt (2012, Bloodshot Records), and The No-Hit Wonder (2014, Bloodshot). His music has received critical praise from the likes of Rolling Stone and Rolling Stone Country, NPR All Things Considered, Noisey, Wall Street Journal, Paste Magazine, Oxford American, Consequence of Sound, Southern Living, and many others.
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