New Music Now 011: Nora O’Connor
Julius C. Lacking: Greetings. Welcome to New Music Now, an Ink 19 podcast. I’m Julius C. Lacking, and I will be your host. On today’s show, Ink 19’s Judy Craddock talks to our musical guest, Nora O’Connor, about her brand-new third solo album, My Heart, and we will also hear from Ink 19 contributor Rose Petralia. Keep your ears glued to the stream for new music from Momma, Ashley McBride, Alvvays, and our lovely guest, Nora O’Connor. Be sure to follow us at ink19.com where you’ll get updates on this show and other Ink 19 music reviews. And now, here’s New Music Now with Judy Craddock.
Judy: Welcome to New Music Now from Ink 19 Magazine, where we talk with real artists about the music they’re loving right now. To follow along with the show, find transcripts and playlists at ink19.com. Today we’re gonna hear eight new tracks from four new albums, including one from our musical guest.
Hi, I’m Judy Craddock. I’m an in 19 writer and radio podcast host in Colorado’s Grand Valley. Please say hello to singer songwriter multi-instrumentalist Nora O’Connor, joining us from Chicago.
Nora: Hi everyone. My name is Nora O’Connor and I’m super excited to be here promoting my new record, on Pravda Records. This is my third solo record. yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve done this. So I really appreciate you guys listening and, uh, playing some songs.
Rose: My name is Rose Petralia. I’m one of the shows producers and the managing editor of our magazine, Inc. 19, which means I listen to a lot of music.
Judy: All right. Thank you all for being here. Let’s get started.
[00:02:11] Household Name, Momma
Judy: Okay, my pick is from the band Momma . It’s on Polyvinyl and uh, man, this album, just the first time I heard it, I was reviewing it for radio airplay and it just really wrapped itself around me. It threw me back to what I felt like were some golden years of alternative rock. Back in the late ’90s, early 2000s, I was doing college radio, Very relatable lyrics. The vocals, everything about it, just, it was a throwback for me, but also very up to date and very modern.
Rose: I haven’t heard this one, but I’ve seen the name around a lot, so I don’t know. I’m looking forward to it.
Judy: Okay. I chose Speeding 72 for our first track. Um, let’s hear it and then we’ll talk about it.
[00:02:55] Speeding 72
Judy: Okay. So this one I just, uh, again, the simplicity of the lyrics, but they’re also full of metaphor, which just makes me so happy. I love the use of metaphor and it’s an upbeat track. When I was reviewing it for radio. I, I kept reading along the lyrics every time I would listen to it and it, and it just made more sense every time.
I’m such a Liz Phair fan, Juliana Hatfield. So when I hear traces of their earlier music in tracks like this, I just get in a happy place. It’s a smart ass attitude, but also softly delivered so everyone can enjoy it on some level.
Rose: I catch that too. it’s got, two things going on. You know, that poppy song that’s just pleasant to listen to on its own. And then if you’re listening to the lyrics, there’s a little story going on. I mean, that’s the nature of a song, but they, they seem different from each other.
The story and the song.
Nora: Uh, yeah. So for me, this is the first time I’ve heard a song by Momma before, and you know, you, you nailed it. Judy with, I’m getting like Veruca Salt vibes. I’m getting Liz Phair and Belly and Juliana Hatfield. Like, I loved all that stuff. So, I’m definitely here for, feeling nostalgic they’re very original too, in a way. We can’t reinvent the wheel too many times, so, Sounds great.
Rose: Yeah, good track.
Judy: Okay. The other, uh, track I chose from the album Household Name is Lucky.
Judy: Such an optimistic love song. Uh, it’s the opposite of the breakup song. It’s, it’s when you’re glued together at the hip I feel like it could be about anything, but the way that this is written, the throwbacks and flashbacks to the years with Belly and, Juliana Hatfield producing things like this just takes me back. But very, relevant to now. I may be an outlier but I heard a little Smashing Pumpkins influence in some of the last half of the song. Just that good fuzzy guitar.
Nora: I know we keep like referencing these ’90s bands, but I now I can’t stop. You know, like The Sundays, and acoustic guitar and, and totally like that kind of smashing pumpkins, kind of grungy, crispy, clean production fuzzy guitars, it’s really cool. Yeah. Yeah. I, I dig it.
Rose: I feel like the band is just like a really tight band. You can tell they practice together a lot, you know? They’re together, super together.
Judy: Yeah, you know, it’s the quintessential got together in college band, in L.A. And, and the California area, and then stayed together as a band. And that tightness, I think, comes from that, from getting together when you’re young and, and unbridled optimism, but then continuing after college when a lot of things just tend to fall apart with adulthood.
So I love that about Momma.
Rose: They’ve been through it.
[00:07:35] Ashley McBryde Presents Linville
Nora: All right. So my pick is a new album by Ashley McBryde and it’s called Ashley McBryde Presents Linville. And it’s an album about this, fictitious town called Linville. And there’s songs about different characters of the town, and there’s a few songs that kind of sound like commercials for the diner and the, and a couple of, uh, like the Pawn Shop, and she sings some songs, then she’s got some male songwriters that sing the male characters. And she wrote this record with a bunch of different songwriters. Um, so I, I haven’t fully dived into it, but we’re gonna start off with Brenda Put Your Bra On.
[00:08:13] Brenda Put Your Bra On
Nora: Yeah, so that’s, uh, that’s Ashley McBryde. Brenda, Put Your Bra On and, uh, we need to not be afraid of country music. Like, come on over my rock and roll and my indie rock friends. Like, this is some twangy twangy country and it’s funny. and the story is, you could just see it, you could just totally, you see Brenda, you know, you see her like grabbing the cigarettes and throwing her pot down her pants so the cops don’t see. And, um, So I’m really excited. I’m excited about diving into this record. This is, this is gonna be fun.
Rose: After hearing that track. Yeah. There’s no way I’m not gonna listen to the rest of this album. That’s so good. So good. Okay. The story is funny. And very real. Like I, when I was listening, I was saying I was having flashbacks to Florida, you know, where I, where I grew up. And I know Judy grew up in the south too, and I’m sure you’ve got some visions going on right now,
it’s like sad and dramatic and just like, this is, it’s Tuesday.
Rose: life. Yeah. Yeah. And her voice is amazing.
Nora: Yeah. It’s great.
Judy: I definitely got a flashback to growing up in, in the south. And, um, while it wasn’t my life, we had plenty of neighbors that, that was their life. And then, you know, up the street there could be a country music icon next to a shack with no plumbing. So you just, you had it all. And this is that picture and this, I want it to be radio friendly. So I heard a piece that I would just edit so that we could get this on radio, if you’re driving in your car and you hear this, this is gonna be it.
Nora: Short and sweet
Judy: Yeah. Short and sweet, put a smile on your face, but it also has some depth, which a lot of people don’t think country music
Rose: Oh, definitely.
Judy: has a ton of depth and.
Rose: There’s a whole lifetime of story in one song,
Judy: Yeah, preaching to the choir on that. I’m a, I’m a rabid Americana country fan, and this, this is a song, so thank you for sharing that. I just, I love it.
Nora: So, uh, the next song we’re gonna hear from Ashley McBryde’s, record is Jesus, Jenny. So, as I was saying, the whole album is about, you know, this town and all these fictitious characters. And this song is actually sung by Aaron Raitiere. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing his name, I might be butchering it, but, it seems like she’s got some, um, some dudes singing the songs from the male characters.
And I think that’s really cool, bringing in different people to sing different songs on your album. I think that’s amazing. So Jesus, Jenny.
[00:11:50] Jesus Jenny
Nora: Yeah. Uh, yeah. I mean, and that, that song too, it gets, it gets kind of silly, you know, But when he sings, you know, I ain’t saying I’m a saint, but I’m living proof a heart can change, you know? That’s really deep. That’s really cool. You know? Um, and I ain’t judging, but I can’t say nothing. You know, that’s ‘cause he’s trying to like, Jenny’s not doing so great right now. He’s, he’s, he’s worried about her and he loves her and he wants to help her, even though it sounds like maybe he’s not with her anymore. Maybe she’s with someone else. I don’t know. I can’t tell, but.
Rose: But he’s a caring guy.
Nora: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So like, I wanna learn more about these people, you know? I wanna see this on this stage, like as a play, you know
Rose: I was initially thinking when, you know, when you were explaining that the concept of this town, I was thinking, Oh, cool. Like, you know, Styx, Paradise Theater album, But no, this is, this is more like, you’re right. Like a play or a, a, uh, swampland opera.
Nora: Right. Yeah. Like I want, I’m excited to hear the rest of the record, and learn more about, oh, you know, there’s a song called Gospel Night at the Strip Club and, uh, Bonfire at Tinas. Like, I wanna know, I wanna learn about Tina. This is, this
Rose: I love it. Ronnie’s Pawn Shop.
These are great.
Judy: Uh, I think that, uh, Jenny needs to meet up with Gillian Welch’s, Miss Ohio. I feel like those two would have a lot to talk about. Do ride, but not right now. I, I love this. I do wanna see it on a stage or something, or maybe this is just what it is. And we take these vignettes as they are.
I also would like to know more about Aaron, He has an incredible voice…
Nora: Yeah, it was kind of like that had that John Prine vibe.
Judy: Uh huh. There’s a very folksy John Prine, And I feel like Aaron, with the way he carries a song, could, could be that person who once on stage, everyone went, Oh, it’s Aaron. all sing along, But beautiful stuff. Ashley has nailed it on this one. Ashley McBryde is, She’s badass.
Rose: It’s really good. Really good. I remember the album that it’s that, it, it really is most like, uh, And that’s David Byrne’s True Stories.
Judy: Yeah, true.
Julius C. Lacking: Greetings again, we appreciate you tuning in today. We have been hearing the latest from the interesting and ultimately quite volatile people of Linville, as presented by Ashley McBride, and some tracks from Momma’s new album Household Name. Stick around for new music from Alvvays, with two Vs. And our musical guest, Nora O’Connor.
Now back to Judy.
Judy: Hey, I’m Judy Craddock and welcome back. We are visiting with Nora O’Connor. All right, let’s hear Rose’s Pick for her album.
[00:15:50] Blue Rev, Alvvays
Rose: Thanks Judy. So my album, the album that I chose is called Blue Rev, and it’s by the band Alvvays with two Vs. Alvvays is the Toronto Band who released one of my favorite songs of all time.
Archie Marry Me, and I do not apologize for putting that earworm in your head. That song’s from 2014, and I think it has something like, I can’t remember, it’s either 70,000 or 700,000 plays on Spotify. Sounds more likely that it’s 700,000. Uh, this is their third studio album and just like their past albums, you can really hear their plush sound and they’re harmonizing, but with that really crystal clear vocal on top. So, uh, the first song that I chose is called Belinda Says, uh, let’s hear that one by Alvvays with two Vs.
[00:17:38] Belinda Says
Rose: I just think that I is a gorgeous composition, just the way that the vocals, you know, layer on top of each other, and it’s just really, really pretty. And then when you listen to the lyrics, uh, you know, I’m gonna move to the country and have this baby. It just sounds like it could be a super hopeful story, but it could also be a tragic one because it sounds like. She’s really trying to be hopeful. The singer is really trying to be positive.
Judy: I felt the same way, and the lyric, that vignette about moving to the country and having this baby and then I’ll wait tables in town is just tragic in a beautiful way. And my first impression, on this song anyway, was this belongs in the soundtrack to a really great indie film. It’s just really beautiful. I hope there’s a video out there, although I don’t need it. I’ve already imagined the video in my head.
Rose: right? I think maybe it’s the waiting tables part that makes me
Judy: think the table story. Who wants to do that with the baby?
Beautifully tragic. A, a dark comedy in the making. I’m glad you picked up. Thank you.
Nora: Yeah, I thought it was great too. Um, actually toured with Alvvays a few years ago when I was singing in the Decemberists Alvvays opened up for us and they were amazing and like cool. We first started playing the song. I’m just like listening to her voice and just remembering how amazing her voice is and it, you know, just like both of you, like as soon as I like.
Okay, now what’s she singing about? And it was right when she got to that lyric with that little part of the story. And I wanna go back and listen to the beginning of the story now to see how we got there and, and what is the, what is this relationship about? And, and gosh, her, her voice sounds amazing. That’s a great tune.
Rose: Yeah. She has a beautiful voice tho these story, you know, story songs always make me wonder how personal they are too.
So the second track that I chose from this album is called Easy On Your Own. It’s the one that reminds me the most of their self-titled album from 2014 and my favorite song,
This is Easy On Your Own by Alvvays.
[00:19:56] Easy On Your Own
Rose: I just, I just love the way she, um, Belts that out. It, I think that’s what reminds me of, uh, Archie marry me as well. It’s just such an earnest call, , and again, with the harmonious vocals and everything, just playing all together. It just sounds so beautiful.
Nora: Yeah, that’s a really cool song. Um, you know, there’s some cool like rhythmic and phrasing things that kind of happen in the pre chorus and chorus too that kind gives it this cool change. I just, I like when songs are small and then they get big and you can see the production and it’s not necessarily a volume thing, it’s more like an energy. And the way the guitars are layered with my headphones on, I got a guitar over on the left and a guitar over on the right, and I love what they’re doing.
Rose: Oh, nice. It’s a huge experience. Yeah. What’d you think, Judy?
Judy: I think this track would take me more than a couple listens. I want this on vinyl so I can again, sit with the lyric sheet and read.
Uh, but the thing that stuck out to me was that is so, so well layered. Just beautifully done. I’ve put this on my, is it on vinyl checklist? Like I just wrote this down, . Because I just wanna sit down with the whole record
Rose: and a whiskey
Judy: Yes, and a whiskey and lay down with the flashlight and read the lyrics in the dark
I’m still very much in that world, but, but this is just beautiful and yeah, I, it will take me a couple listens to have it hit me as much as the first track did. But I love everything they do. It’s really not predictable, which I like, so
Rose: Yeah. Yeah. I like the dynamic.
Judy: All right. Now let’s hear some new music from Nora O’Connor. Tell us about your new album, My Heart.
[00:22:38] My Heart, Nora O’Connor
Nora: So, yeah, thanks again for having me. This, this record, like a lot of albums right now was totally born out of the pandemic at some point in the summer of 2020, I started playing in people’s backyards, like these little parties where, you know, 20 people would get together.
We’d X off, you know, six feet apart on the grass and we’d still wear masks. And I started doing these backyard shows and in a way they were really special because nothing else was going on. We weren’t visiting our mom, we weren’t going on to dinner. It was the only thing happening, you know, in my little, bubble, you know, my little neighborhood, and, uh, I had written a couple new songs before, the lockdown and playing these little shows just kind of made me wanna play and, and kind of move over to the front microphone for a little while and write some more songs. so I just started writing more. I wanted more new original material in my solo set it just felt like time to do that work.
Rose: Very cool. It’s like, I don’t know, the past few years we’ve, um, become better aligned with what we really wanted to do,
Nora: I think so.
Rose: …and what we don’t.
Nora: I went deep. I really went super deep, you know, and this definitely was an exercise for me of trusting myself and getting over myself. It’s like, just write some songs. You know? It does, it doesn’t have to be best song in the whole wide world. It just needs to kind of come from, you know, an honest place inside of me somewhere.
Rose: Let’s just create
Nora: Yeah. Yeah. So My Heart, um, was one of those songs that in the morning of the day, I recorded it. It was just a little song on my guitar and I showed it to, Alex Hall who plays drums, and he, it’s his studio and he co-produced this record with me and Casey McDonough, who plays bass on this record, and, you know, we sat around with guitar and drums and bass and kind of plucked it out and I wasn’t really totally moved. but as soon as I put my guitar down, I walked over to the piano and started plunking it out on the piano and we just kind of ran from there. And then the song just it took on the life of its own. And at the end of the day, I walked out with this piano power pop song, or this like Bacharach-y kind of song that, you know, I didn’t see it coming. So it’s like the song just, decided how it wanted to be and I had nothing to do with it.
So that’s the kind of experience I was looking for. In making a record. And when I think about it it’s just one pass on the vocals. There’s one pass on the drums, the bass, the guitar solo, Which Casey did, just kind of, started piddling around on the guitar and I was like, Go do that. go go record that. That’s so cool. So, uh, I love this song. It, was just really fun to record and it was just a glorious day in the studio. So why don’t we, start off and play track two, which is My Heart.
[00:25:41] My Heart
Rose: What a beautiful voice.
Nora: Thank you.
Judy: Beautiful. Beautiful. I definitely see the piano driving this song. I, yeah, you made a really good choice there it makes all the sense in the world. And this will be one that just hooks people in ‘cause I’ve been listening to the rest of the album, and I think people will love it. So.
Nora: Huh. Great,
Rose: It’s such a nice little melody for your beautiful voice to be on top of, you know what I mean? It’s like you complement each other well, the music and your voice.
Nora: Thank you. All right, so this next song we’re gonna listen to, is called Tarot Card. And it’s just like a vignettes of stories basically based on me finding a tarot card in the backseat of my car.
[00:27:38] Tarot Card
Nora: So that was Tarot Card yeah, like I was saying, it was kind of a little story that I made up, around, you know, finding a tarot card in, in my car. And, uh, I love the production on this song. I think it, um, You know, it’s got our real kind of ’70s soft rock kind of, vibe going. And again, didn’t see that coming when we recorded it, but you know, this was another song that, I decided to pull the, I’m just a acoustic guitar driven. That’s how I write, that’s what I do. Um, so it was so fun to be in the studio and just like, let’s just take the acoustic guitar out and see. And I sat with the instrumental for a couple of weeks before I put the vocals down and I ended up, just singing in at home when no was around kind of a fun way to do it too. No self consciousness at all, you know?
Rose: Did it get to evolve?
Nora: It did. It did. Yeah. Yeah. I kind of relaxed ‘cause when I was singing it before, it was just a little more forced and I feel like this is just a much more chill version of, you know, the demo of Tarot Card.
Rose: Yeah. I love the way it starts out with, um, I was feeling around for change in the back seat of my car, just because of the… yeah, yeah. I mean, and then, you know, as I, as I keep listening, I realize that’s literal, but it also could mean so many things.
Rose: It’s a great song,
Nora: It’s funny. well though, here’s the thing, like when I was listening to it, it’s very, that Suzy Quatro song… our Love Is Alive. It’s got that production, it’s got that warmth, that compression. So that’s a really good, song to kind of compare it to. I wasn’t necessarily going for that, but once I was there, I, I stayed there.
I was like, Oh yeah, no shame. No shame.
Judy: The guitar solo for me was also, that fill is just so tasteful. I don’t know if that’s yours or your,
Nora: That’s Scott Ligon.
Judy: Yeah. Beautiful. Just fill work and, it doesn’t overpower anything, but it’s recognizable almost in that the way Nels Cline has taste It’s just beautiful. And I agree with Rose the. The change in the backseat, whether it’s a metaphor or there’s no one, no one who hasn’t done that. And so immediately it brings a smile to the listener. It doesn’t matter if they’ve even know what a tarot card is. Beautifully written song. And I, I really enjoyed it. now I’m starting to pick tracks that, that really stand out to me. And, and this was another one.
Rose: It’s hard to land on just a couple. It’s a really a beautiful album.
Judy: Compared to your previous album from 2004, I hear a lot of growth here and, it was till the dawn I was listening to but it’s also been about a decade so.
Nora: It’s been a little, It’s been a couple minutes. Yeah. 17 years to be exact.
Judy: How did that happen? Yeah.
Nora: Yeah. I just have been in other people’s bands for so long and, I didn’t want to make a record. I was just, my job was you know, as a side person and, uh, I enjoyed that. And I’m inherently lazy, so it takes me a while to get, you know, yeah. But, uh, it was time. I’m, so glad. I, I, I do not plan on waiting that much longer for the next one. I promise you that.
Judy: Okay, good.
Rose: Excellent. You’re inspired.
Judy: Thank you all for being here today Where can we find the band’s music, Nora?
Nora: So you can jump on, um, my label’s website, which is Pravda, P R A V as in Victor, D A music.com, or just go to my website and it’ll take you to Pravda. And that’s noraoconnormusic.com.
Judy: And rose, where are you?
Rose: I’m Rose Petralia on Instagram and Ink 19 Magazine on Spotify.
Judy: And my name is Judy Craddock, and you can find me on Spotify under Judy with a Y. W H Y and on Instagram at south_by_sagebrush.
Rose: Lovely. Thank you so much, Nora.
Nora: Yeah, this was super fun. Thanks for having
Judy: Thank you.
Rose: Yeah, definitely.
Judy: To our listeners, thank you for listening. You can find links to podcasts, transcripts, and Spotify playlist featuring today’s artist inc nineteen.com. That’s I N K one nine. We are eight 19 magazine on social media and Spotify. We hope you enjoyed today’s new music. Thank you for being here.
Julius C. Lacking: Thank you, Judy, for being our gracious hostess, and thanks to Rose from Ink 19 for joining us once again. To our listeners, we hope you enjoyed catching up with our musical guest, Nora O’Connor, who talked with us about her first solo album in 17 years called My Heart. We heard tracks from Momma’s album Household Name and Ashley McBride Presents Linville, some from Alvvays’ newest record called Blue Rev, and the title track and a track called Tarot Card from our guest, Nora O’Connor’s newest solo album My Heart.
Find More Podcasts and new music reviews at ink19.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Today’s episode was produced by Frank Dreyer, Ian Koss, and Rose Petralia. Our theme music was composed by Avi Bortnick. Check him out online at avibortnick.com.