Cory Branan talks about his songwriting secret and who he gets compared to most

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 20, 2013 

Cory Branan and Jon Snodgrass play at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Jinx, 127 W. Congress St., Savannah.

  • WHAT: Cory Branan and Jon Snodgrass

    WHEN: 7 p.m. Feb. 21

    WHERE: Jinx, 127 W. Congress St., Savannah

    COST: $5; Must be 21 or older


Singer-songwriter Cory Branan likes to maintain a certain emotional distance between himself and his most personal songs.

Branan, 38, a native of Southaven, Miss., who now calls Nashville home, prefers his audience not know he is singing about himself or something he's gone through and says he isn't afraid to use a few tricks to maintain that illusion.

"Sometimes if the song is about me, I'll make the person in the song a woman or something like that," Branan said. "There's a personal cost involved, and I don't like to feel like I'm singing from a diary. It just feels too indulgent to be singing so directly about myself or things that have happened to me."

Fresh off the 2012 release of his third LP, "Mutt," Branan, a gritty folk artist in the vein of Justin Townes Earle and Patterson Hood, will perform Feb. 21 with fellow folk crooner Jon Snodgrass at Jinx in Savannah.

Branan talks about his somewhat antiquated taste in music, the re-emergence of folk music and the artists he gets compared to most often.

Question. When did you start playing music?

Answer. I really got my start playing music in the church, but then I got into some metal bands and some punk bands but I didn't write my first song until I was 25 or so. I was a late bloomer. I don't remember what that first song was about. It was a batch of songs. Like I sat down to write and about 15 songs came out all at once.

Q. What is your songwriting process?

A. I've been on some bus tours and I know guys who can stay up all night and write on the bus but I've just never been able to do that. It's just tough to go out and play a show for two hours then have the energy to stay up and write songs. I usually wait until I get home from tour. I rest up a little bit then I'm ready and raring to go to write some more.

Q. What are you listening to now?

A. I'm the wrong person to ask about new music. I really don't listen to anything recorded after 1948. I really love those old Delta blues records so that stuff really makes up the bulk of the music on my iPod but I do get out and see a lot of live shows. I recently saw Shovels & Rope, and they killed it. I haven't seen two people do that much work on stage and make such great music in a long, long time.

Q. The music press has a penchant for comparing artists to one another, what do you get most often and does that ever get old?

A. I've heard everything from Conor Oberst to Ryan Adams to (Kris) Kristofferson. I mean, I take those comparisons as compliments but I don't hear it.

Q. What do you think of the recent popularity of folk artists like yourself, Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers?

A. I mean, I don't think of it as folk music. Mumford & Sons is still pop music. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pop song but I think the popularity of bands like that has more to do with people wanting to again see people playing their instruments. For a while now, music has sounded really (expletive) and so overproduced. The music was getting less human, so it's good to see real musicians starting to rise to the top.

Q. What's next for you?

A. I'm about go on the road with Gaslight Anthem, and then I'm going in to record another album in a couple of months. The album is half older stuff that I've never been able to find a home for and half newer stuff.

RELATED CONTENT Cory Branan's website

Lowcountry Current's music column, Currently Playing

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