Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins
Cory Branan has never been an average country musician, even if you add the “alt” prefix to the genre. As his own bio puts it, he’s “too punk for country, too country for punk, too Memphis for Nashville.” Yet he’s also become one of the most respected — if under appreciated — singer-songwriters pumping out rare and raw music under that alt-country banner. His fierce talents have led to him working with a range of artists, from Lucero to The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn to Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba. His latest full-length, ADIOS, once again finds him displaying his gifted lyricism alongside a number of surprising guest collaborators.
The record’s new single, “I Only Know”, shows all those facets at peak excellence. It’s one of the album’s more chipper tracks, a skipping, swinging bit of country pop with bright percussive notes. Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and The Loved Ones’ Dave Hause join in on the defiant hook, a chorus of powerful voices promising never to return to their darker days. “If our past is all we get to be/ My old life would have been the death of me/ While I find myself alive I might as well see where it gets me,” Branan sings before his special guests chime in to declare, “I only know I ain’t gonna go back.”
“Just trying to write a positive song amidst life’s bullshit,” Branan tells Consequence of Sound about the song. “As close as I could get was I’m positively not going back to the bullshit.” Take a listen below.
The follow-up to 2014’s The No-Hit Wonder, ADIOS is out April 7th from Bloodshot Records. It was self-produced at Tweed Studios in Oxford, Mississippi and features former Deer Tick member Robbie Crowell (drums, percussion, keys, and horns), James “Haggs” Haggerty on bass, and Amanda Shires on fiddle and vocals. You can pre-order the record via Bloodshot.