By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Five strong, they possess the tools of their miraculous, imaginative trade; when they slap, strum, pick and make thwoopping sounds in concert with their able-bodied voices, they distinguish themselves from nearly all other like-minded musicians who ply their trade in the recording studio and on stage. Lately, they have had to limit their collective ply to the recording studio; in the age of COVID-19, venturing out to play is unthinkable, considering the global state of play.
“If only we could play a f****n’ show,” the Flat Five’s Nora O’Connor says genuinely and honestly after a quick sigh, for it is on the stage that Nora and Kelly Hogan and Alex Hall and Casey McDonough and Scott Ligon, whose brother Chris, who isn’t in the band, writes the songs that the Flat Five warble brilliantly, gather to relate Chris’s clever and wildly imaginative lyrical wordplay and musical playlets with creative precision.
For now, the Flat Five from Chicago, from the Windy City and not from anywhere else, mind you, enjoin themselves within Alex’s popular Reliable Recorders. In there, they plug in and turn on and subsequently bring Chris Ligon’s beautifully and cleverly written tales of people who wind up here, there and possibly everywhere to life with harmony singing par excellence. The Flat Five’s joyous new album, Another World, their second long player that is even better than their first, a delectable spinner entitled It’s a World of Love and Hope that came out in 2016, is proof of everything.
“The song is our higher power,” says Nora, a truth borne out by snappy songs like “Drip a Drop,” which toasts the elixir known as pure and giddy happiness with wordplay extraordinaire (“My baby shakes like Tina Turner’s daughter / He runs around the house in just a little top / On his behind you can set a glass of water / He Hully Gullys and don’t ever drip a drop”).
The deeply felt ballad, “The Great State of Texas,” sung empathically by Kelly, tells the sad tale of a prisoner behind bars in the aforementioned great state who experiences a series of last meet-and-greets with things both mundane and personal before stating that “the great state of Texas is taking my” (beat, beat, beat, beat, beat) “life.” It’s a heartbreaking ballad that cuts deep.
Of course, there is much more to savor on Another World, and if you think the proverbial coinkidink is in play when you note that the word “world” appears in the title of both of the Flat Five’s albums, know that although it seems that there is absolutely no coinkidink in play, there actually is. It’s just that the world being referred to could be on the moon, could be an escape from the craziness of our lives, as it is in Another World’s jaunty closer, “Over and Out” (“Over and out the page has turned / the train has left the station…”).
Listen to (and watch!) Nora O’Connor and Kelly Hogan wax poetic about all of the above and a whole lot more as my very special guests on the first in a new series of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows, appearing below (you’ll be able to hear the show on our Pure Pop Radio station soon). This interview is presented in See! Hear! Pop!, Pure Pop Radio’s finely-tuned video-riffic sight and sound format (make of that what you will, will you?).
Please note that, due to copyright considerations, this interview is scoped, so the songs spoken about do not play when I say they will and, instead, play below. So listen to the interview and then listen to “I Don’t Even Care” and “The Great State of Texas,” which should propel you to, after all is said and done, purchase Another World, another in a series of wonderful albums by Chicago’s Flat Five.
Without further ado, here are the Flat Five’s Nora O’Connor and Kelly Hogan in conversation with me, Alan Haber. Enjoy.
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, hosted by Alan Haber, is the internet’s premier talk show presenting melodic pop music artists talking about their work. New episodes appear here exclusively on the Pure Pop Radio website. Podcast versions of previously-aired episodes are archived here.
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