by Robert Bell
CORY BRANAN, AUDRA MAE
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $8.
I hear a strong Springsteen/Mellencamp/Petty influence on "Mutt," Cory Branan's latest album and first for Bloodshot Records. As Branan told Yahoo! Music, "musically it's kind of a grab bag — so much so that I ended up calling the record 'Mutt.' "
True that. This collection of tunes has the DNA of a pound's worth of musical critters. If you squint your ears just right, "Survivor Blues" could be a raspy Warren Zevon fronting Thin Lizzy. "The Snowman" is a Tom Waits-ian dirge with a keening clarinet and a violin sawing away in the background. "Darken My Door" and "The Freefall" have some great weepy lap steel that somehow sounds too low in the mix and just right at the same time. "Jericho" has an almost Bo Diddley beat and an array of keyboards and wind instruments.
Surprises and left turns abound, such as the angelic female voice that peeks into the last few moments of "Hold Me Down." This record will reward persistence; it doesn't take all its clothes off on that first date.
Branan is on tour right now with fiery Oklahoma singer/songwriter Audra Mae. Those two play Wednesday up on The Hill at George's Majestic. Adam Faucett, one of the finest singer/songwriters in the state, opens the show at White Water.