I had been waiting for a new Flat Five record since about 15 seconds after the debut album finished playing. "It's A World Of Love & Hope" was my favorite record of 2016. It was a collection of songs written by the mad genius Chris Ligon, turned into some of the most offbeat and melodic sunshine pop by his brother Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough, both current members of NRBQ, Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Connor and Alex Hall.
Pandemic delays both in recording and shipping, and I finally got my copy of "Another World" last week. And yes, here it comes, it was worth the wait!
"Another World" picks up where "Love & Hope" left off in a number of ways, including another 11 songs written by Chris Ligon. And while the formula is basically the same--upbeat melodies and mostly swinging arrangements, there is something about "Another World" that seems tighter, maybe just a bit more focused.
Ligon's songs remain as dark as ever. "The Great State Of Texas," sung by Miss O'Connor, describes the last things one experiences before execution, all in a sweet lullaby, while "World Missed Out" is...well...just absolutely chilling. I won't spoil it.
It's not all dark. "Butterflies Don't Bite" is a complete joy, sounding exactly like the perfect Tijuana Brass tune if it had lyrics, and "The Girl Of Virginia," a short and sweet waltz, sounding like a cross between a country classic and a jazz standard, shows off the brilliant harmonizing of Scott and Casey.
After the first pass of "Another World" I was happy, but wasn't quite satisfied. The Flat Five had some big shoes to fill after their debut. But by the third spin, "Another World" proved to be just as smart and in some ways, even better. I didn't think that was possible, but that's how good this band and Ligon's songs really are.