Interview: Cory Branan

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Mississippi-born Nashville-based alt-country veteran Cory Branan is currently on tour, and set to play for the hometown crowd on Friday, August 12th at Nashville’s Basement East, before heading out with Lucero this fall.

Branan has no reservations when playing in front of Nashville’s notoriously tough crowds; “Nashville’s been really kind to me. It took a while, but the crowds have been kind. When I first started playing, I lived in Memphis, and that’s a whole different kind of ‘tough’ crowd,” he says with a laugh. “After that, every other place is a cakewalk. Nashville’s tough for a different reason; there are seven things going on every night, and people are used to a high caliber of musicianship. In Memphis, so much music came from there, folks think they’ve heard everything. That burns off the chaff though, if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re not going to be able to deal with those types of crowds. I’m happy to be from there, it armed me in a way.”

His upbringing also armed him with a wickedly sharp sense of humor that is evidenced in his songwriting. “That’s just being Southern, the sadder and more real things you deal with with humor, it’s he best way I’ve found to approach anything that’s nuanced or complicated,” he explains. “That’s why I’m such a huge John Prine fan, he can make you laugh as he slips the knife in.” Branan admits that fatherhood has changed his penchant to write sad songs; “I’m a much happier person now, and it’s kind of screwing up my writing go-tos,” he admits with a chuckle.

Branan is putting the finishing touches on his next album, the follow-up to 2014’s lauded No-Hit Wonder on label Bloodshot Records, which featured collaborations with friends Jason Isbell and members of alt-rock outfit The Hold Steady. “I’ve always had my friends on my records, ever since the first one; it’s usually just whichever friends of mine are in town when I’m making my record,” he says with a laugh. The new album was recorded in Oxford, Mississippi, and features collaborations with Amanda Shires and Robert Crowell from Deer Tick, amongst other interesting guests who Branan is keeping under wraps for now. Will there be special guests at his Basement East show on August 12th? “I like to put my friends to work,” he says. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

Purchase Nashville show tickets here.

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Susan Hubbard

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