When I Go I Ghost

Cory Branan

Blue ┬┤Elan Records, 2023

http://www.corybranan.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/19/2023

Undoubtedly one of the hardest working artists today, singer-songwriter-guitarist and Mississippi native Cory Branan has been winning over fans for decades with his relentless touring schedule. His recorded albums have been equally impressive, and this new one—and first on the esteemed Blue Élan label—has the troubadour welcoming some well-known friends for the occasion.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Branan starts the listen off with the thumping, guitar soaring “When In Rome, When In Memphis,” where his inviting and wise voice steers us through gritty country-rock that spotlights Eric Slick’s proficient drums and Jarrad K’s energetic piano.

“O Charlene” then brings a calmer pace of eloquent storytelling that carries a warm, rootsy appeal, while “That Look I Lost” recruits bright brass, soulful backing vocals and strings to a very retro formula that shows us just how diverse Branan can be.

In the middle, the thick textures of “When I Leave Here” lead into darker areas of song craft that touch on Branan's punk past, though it’s the very descriptive storytelling of “Pocket God” that truly illustrates his skill with wordplay, as the setting carries a very reflective, somber tone.

One of the many guests, Garrison Starr duets with Branan on the harmonic and crisp Americana of “Waterfront,” and “Of Two Minds” exits the listen with a dreamy appeal of lifting vocals and playful, atmospheric instrumentation.

A couple of guests present across the listen are Jason Isbell and Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem), who contribute their inimitable pipes, while Robbie Crowell and Spencer Cullum bring bass and steel guitar respectively. This is Branan's sixth album and his greatest, although I probably said that about the last one, and will probably also say that about the next one. The guy is just one of the best songwriters alive today, and he keeps getting better, somehow.

Rating: A

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