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Cory Branan

Mutt – 2012 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Cory Branan

Cory Branan has cited varied influences for "Mutt." They include Mellencamp and Springsteen. ITunes appears to have pegged them as the dominant ones. The album is auto categorized in the rock genre. But his self-produced debut with Bloodshot is a melting pot of varying inspirations, from Americana to folk. Some are subtly hidden, perhaps even to Branan himself. His finesse picking on the gorgeous opener The Corner is reminiscent of Lindsey Buckingham. The fundamental sound is a punk /southern rock vibe in the same vein as Paul Westerberg.

Two versions of Survivor Blues bookend the heart of the record's 13 songs. The first is an aggressive punk laced version . The second serves as the closer and is the acoustic coffee shop rendition, complete with mellow electric piano. The songs in between look forward and back to each other, creating a two-sided mirror of meaning that is both expansive and internal.

His easy, conversational delivery is a double-edged sword. His voice is reassuring and smooth, but when he drops a few F bombs on The Freefall they come off as a little shocking and out of place.

He demonstrates a keen sense of humor on the amusingly sentimental Yesterday. Set in the 80's, he muses, "I was certifiably cool/ In my acid washed jacket and my stone washed jeans/I rose out of the kiddie pool."

Each song has a different feel, and Branan consciously let each one go in its own direction without deliberately establishing contrast

Like the bare breasted hydra on the cover, the album is at once bold, intriguing and engrossing. The diverse themes are held together by an impeccable knack for the craft of songwriting.