WILKES-BARRE — The process of crafting a set list can vary from artist to artist — some like to chisel their’s in stone and perform the same songs every night, while others make edits based on factors like mood or location. Cory Branan is not like some or others. For the Mississippi born and Nashville bred singer/songwriter, it’s whatever.
“I never make a plan, just whatever’s on my mind and whatever speaks to the room and the temperament of the room,” Branan said. “If anybody wants to hear the old stuff all you got to do is holler it — if I can remember it.”
At 8 p.m. Sept. 9, Branan will play a to-be-determined collection of songs at Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts as part of the venue’s Live From the Chandler Lobby Series. Branan’s performance comes shortly after the completion of his new album, a 14-track full-length he described as a step away from the “between the ditches” roots sound of previous effort “No Hit Wonder” and back into familiar genre-bending territory.
“This one’s more back to sort of whatever the song needs — it’s all over the place,” Branan said. “On the first track I’ve got Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!) singing with me, it’s almost like a Buddy Holly-type number, there’s some new wave stuff on there, there’s some really dark theatrical stuff, but there’s some sincere, straight songwriter stuff on there too, which is the hardest for me to do.”
For Branan, sincerity means taking the scenic route through songwriting — he finds directness to be gratuitous, so he follows the coronary arteries of his heart around in circles instead of wearing it all on his sleeve. He said he found a few noteworthy topics for the new album during his travels. His measuring stick? Whether a song makes him feel like he’s wasting his audience’s time.
“It’s important that its entertaining and honest on a certain level. You don’t stand there and expect them to listen because it’s your heart, you’ve got to earn your keep and entertain,” said Branan, before explaining how his multi-layered songwriting structure fosters longevity. “I take care to give them something to come back to. I try to leave gaps in songs for what folks are feeling in their own lives, but I also find specific detail makes it work. It’s sort of intuitive. I know when I did it.”
About a month after Branan plays Wilkes-Barre, he’ll embark on a three-week jaunt with fellow kind-of-punk, sort-of-country Tennesseans Lucero, but on Sept. 9, the no-hit wonder will set up shop in the F.M. Kirby Center lobby. Make sure you bring a song to scream; if you’re loud enough, you’ll probably hear it.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO
Who: Singer/songwriter Cory Branan with Brooklyn-based folk artist Brian Dunne
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Sq., Wilkes-Barre. The performance will take place in the venue’s lobby.
When: Sept. 9. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., event begins at 8 p.m.
How Much: $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Kirby Center box office, calling 570-826-1100 or visiting KirbyCenter.org.