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Cory Branan: A 'No-Hit Wonder,' Making Small-Batch Country Music

Cory Branan is stretched out with his feet up on the cover of his new album. His boots are all battered, worn down at the heels, and he's dozing off. The album's title kind of says it all: The No-Hit Wonder. It's his fourth in career stacked with lonesome country anthems to life on the road, delivered in a voice that's pleasantly weathered.

In an interview with NPR's Melissa Block, Branan says that while his style of music hasn't produced many hitmakers, he's content playing a smaller game. It's a lesson he learned in part through his years as a bartender.

"A lot of music is like the fruity shooters — you know, the Top 40 songs of the week," he says. "And that's great! You know, my music doesn't go very well with a bachelorette party; somebody's music needs to do that.

"Roots music is a little more like a bourbon," Branan says. "In that world, some people are fine with whatever the bartender pulls from the bottom shelf. It's brown, it came from a barrel; they're just gonna put Coca-Cola in it and pound it until they're parched anyway. But the music that I love, and strive to make, is a little more small-batch, distilled — hopefully like a sipping whiskey."

Hear more of the conversation at the audio link.

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