Review: Cory Branan’s Mutt

June 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

So I decided singer-songwriter/charming Southern cad Cory Branan‘s new record, Mutt, out now on Bloodshot Records, is best played with the tracks in backwards order. Not only does this reveal awesome Satanic messages but the songs seem to follow each other better, and ending the album with The Corner puts it on just the right wistful note. (Kidding about Satan. OR AM I??)

His first releases, The Hell You Say, 12 Songs and the split he did with Jon Snodgrass, are all perfect hangover music for saps. The kind of music that’s best when you’re lying on the floor, mildly hungover, in the morning after a person has vacated your bed, and you’re finally left to yourself and you feel either sad, victorious, still turned on or a mixture of all three.

Half of Mutt is just like that. It’s the parts that aren’t I’m struggling with. Mutt branches out stylistically with a cheesy violin-backed track, jazzy cabaret-style song and what I can only shudderingly describe as country pop rock, and it’s those forays that don’t work as well for me.

Mutt is a fine album for listening to. It’s just not as emotionally powerful as 12 songs. While Branan’s albums are sometimes disjointed, what they’ve shared in common is mostly pretty acoustic guitar work, really strong lyricism and great lines. Just go listen to Prettiest Waitress in Memphis or Muhummad Ali- “my love put the deep in the ocean, my love talked the sky into going with blue…my love ain’t no delicate snowflake, my love’s a bull with the china shop blues.” Mutt doesn’t have as many songs I want to put on a CD and listen to on repeat.

I can see this record being a transitioning point in Cory Branan’s career to being more musically diverse, but I don’t think he’s yet figured out how to make it really work.

I still would highly recommend getting Mutt in whatever format you like, but I’m glad to have the mp3s so I can fiddle with it and play it in whatever order I like. It won’t be an album that I reach for when I want hangover-brain comfort food, but that’s okay.

Also, Fangirl Story Time: I saw Cory Branan at Revival Tour in Seattle in April (see photo), and after the show went up to him and said ‘Hi, just wanted to say the show was awesome’ and giggled like a shithead, because I lose my cool completely around my favorite musicians. I told him word is he’s a cad, and he said, “Why, I prefer to think of myself as a rake.” And he held my hand in both of his and said it was nice to meet me. Sigh.

Mp3: Bad Man, off Mutt

Mp3: The Corner, version off split with Jon Snodgrass (of Drag the River)

Buy Mutt here.

–Kate

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