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First Listen: Cory Branan's When I Go I Ghost

Cory Branan
Jamie Harmon
Cory Branan

Cory Branan is a superb singer-songwriter with a penchant for crafting catchy yet thought-provoking songs. Hailing from Memphis, TN, Cory has been making music since he was a teenager. When I Go I Ghost will be his 6th official release, which lands precisely 20 years after his first. It was recorded and produced by Grammy-Award-winning engineer Jeremy Ferguson in Nashville and features a slew of top-notch guests, including Jason Isbell, Anthony DaCosta, Brian Fallon, and a duet with fellow Memphian Garrison Starr on "Waterfront."

Branan is known for his clever lyrics and ability to tell a story through his music and is often compared to some of the greats, like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. His songs often deal with personal themes such as love, loss, and heartbreak. Some songs are autobiographical, but most come from the minds of the characters he creates. The music is a mix of genres, changing up with each new song. It's a little bit country, a little bit punk, and a whole lot of rock 'n' roll. And it's all served up with a heaping helping of attitude. This pretty much sums up the musical gumbo that is a Cory Branan album.

For When I Go I Ghost, he switches gears a bit to focus on exploring doubt, loss, depression, and general stir-craziness. The music is often about people at a crossroads in their life; it's very contemplative, with Branan (or his protagonists) looking back on their life and relationships, trying to figure out when they went off the tracks. But don't expect them to figure it out. His characters are just as complicated and full of doubt as he is.

However, Branan wants you to know that most of the news songs don't revolve around his recent divorce. Except "That Look I Lost."

"Folks want to treat singer-songwriters as diaries, but I’m not really into the self-mythologizing. I don’t write confessional stuff. I don’t find much inspiration in myself. We aren’t the bickering couple on ‘One Happy New Year,’ she isn’t the quasi-alcoholic mess in the venomous ‘When I Leave Here.’ I don’t think there’s any chance of folks mistaking me and her for the murdering drug dealer and thieving prostitute in ‘Pocket of God,’ – but there are plenty other songs they can misread into.”

But his point of view does come through in some songs, like “Room 101” and “Angels in the Details.” Branan was recently diagnosed as manic-depressive and purposely tried to incorporate some of his mental health issues into these songs.

When I Go I Ghost is an album full of catchy, memorable tracks that are also complex and interesting. Branan has a gift for capturing the human experience while also incorporating his signature wit, humor, and edge. His lyrics are thoughtful and introspective, and his voice has a rough, folksy quality that gives his songs an extra layer of authenticity.

WMOT is excited to share an exclusive video of Cory Branan listening to When I Go I Ghost and sharing his thoughts about it and some interesting trivia.

Rachel Hurley is the Content Manager for WMOT, managing their website content and social media feeds. She currently travels and lives in an RV with her two dogs. She calls home any place she can plug into shore power.
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