Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cory Branan -- Adios

Cory Branan's pretty all over the place. If you've ever seen him live, you know that he's a madcap, adventurous soul, musically and otherwise. If you haven't seen a Cory Branan show, it's worth it. (I meant to see him last week, but sometimes it's hard to pass up an impromptu barbecue at the foot of the George Washington Bridge.) Branan's a charming ruffian who can slingshot from humor to pathos at the strum of a chord. Adios exemplifies his flexibility.

There's a curious thing, for me, about Branan's music. If I'm being honest I don't listen to his albums much in between releases. But when I see his live shows there's a song that touches me somewhere deep in my soul; even if I've never heard the song before it's as if I've known the words all along. One example of this is "Visiting Hours," a punchy punk-inspired number about a friend ailing in a hospital. "The Vow" is Branan's most touching song yet about fatherhood -- and he's got quite a few. Adios isn't just about the death of a person. It's also about the death of ego, as "I Only Know" gently mocks and vows to leave behind youthful insecurity. (This bubbly lead track is supported by Laura Jane Grace and Dave Hause and is one of my new favorite songs.)

Branan also addresses death in the streets with "Nightmare in America" and this is one I need to respectfully take him to task for. It tells of a police shooting from...the cop's point of view? I know that the intent is to make such people sound paranoid and short-sighted, but the song is catchy-as-hell and is easy to dance to. The line of critique is difficult to catch on a single listen and will certainly be more difficult to absorb live. In my view, it's really not necessary to highlight these peoples' voices. Putting them in the first person still elicits a certain amount of sympathy because we find ourselves identifying with them. Furthermore, their point of view is not interesting. They're abusing their power and murdering young people, no matter what they think they're doing. End of story. Or at least don't make it an anthemic song. I think a more interesting perspective would be from one of these "All Lives Matter" or "Blue Lives Matter" people -- not a perpetrator but a sympathizer -- who's suddenly confronted with police violence in their own community.

That being said, Adios is an album I see turning to repeatedly for some time to come. Branan hits the nail on the head, for me, with many of the life experiences described in Adios. With Adios, both the recording and the live versions of the songs strike a chord in my soul.

Edit: Josh over at Bloodshot Records was kind enough to send me this video, in which Branan discusses "Nightmare in America."

Cory Branan -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Bloodshot Records

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