Cory Branan MUTT

Cory BrananMUTT
As the title suggests, there are a number of different musical genes comingling within this Mississippi-born singer-songwriter's debut for Chicago's venerable Bloodshot label. Squawking horns collide with strings, while Branan's vocals waver between heartsick troubadour and roadhouse rocker, in the spirit of his Memphis homies Lucero. It's not an entirely off-putting mix, but it's only after a few songs that one starts to get a handle on what Branan's up to. He doesn't have the unbridled lyrical passion of someone like Conor Oberst or the Hold Steady's Craig Finn to tie it all together, but Branan does occasionally pull off a ripping yarn like "Survivor Blues," which bears the kind of hardboiled description that would make any Elmore Leonard fan smile. Then there's "Badman," which manages to channel both Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen simultaneously. It sums up Branan's seeming desire to have MUTT be a kind of love letter to American heartland rock. It's a noble idea, but the results, while intriguing, are just slightly off the mark. (Bloodshot)