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Cory Branan

The No-Hit Wonder – 2014 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Cory Branan

After only four albums in a dozen years, there's a certain truthfulness that comes with a title like "The No-Hit Wonder." On the other hand, Cory Branan's apparent attempt at modesty belies a talent that deserves to garner notice, thanks to a wry yet infectious songwriting style that takes pains to share its strengths without ever requiring a second listen. If Branan is reticent to show he's worthy of chart placement, it's certainly not evident here.

Indeed, despite a predisposition for rugged road songs, Branan isn't your typical wandering troubadour. Though songs such as the country corn of "Daddy Was a Skywriter," the twangy "All the Rivers in Colorado" and the strum and stroll accompanying "C'mon Shadow" show a certain down home disposition, Branan isn't afraid to inject a Springsteenian rallying cry to his outreach, a sound so driving and infectious, it's hard not to feel inclined to strap yourself in beside him. "You Make Me," "The Only You" and "The Highway Home" are the sort of songs clearly capable of reaching out and going for the jugular, and in effect, they do. There's no drift or detachment evident herein, and it's to Branan's credit that his single-minded endeavors keep the listener engaged throughout.

Whether or not Branan succeeds in someday becoming a household name, courtesy of the hits he may hope to have, remains to be seen. It's a given that accumulating a soaring sales trajectory requires far more hype and happenstance than mere talent seems to afford. Yet Branan has slowly but steadily proven that he's capable of winning over the hearts and minds of Americana's surest devotees with music that deserves true devotion. Given the chance, "The No-Hit Wonder" could become a wonder of another sort.