HIGH AMBITIONS Cork-born singer-songwriter Mick Flannery.
Fans of Mick Flannery will be flocking to Westport on Saturday, December 7, when the singer will be taking to the stage at Westport Town Hall Theatre at 8pm.
An award-winning, double-platinum selling artist, Flannery has not only just released his self-titled sixth album, but he also just finished overseeing the premiere of the stage musical, ‘Evening Train’ (based on his 2007 concept debut album of the same name), which garnered rave reviews at the Cork Midsummer Festival. While the singer himself is outwardly reserved, his songs are fluent in expressing layered aspects of the human condition, its flaws, triumphs, and general uncertainty.
Flannery began to write songs as a teenager in his home of Blarney. As musical influences from albums by the likes of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits seeped into his creative DNA, Mick absorbed, learned and honed the craft that would send him on his way into the world. The path was smoothed somewhat when, at the age of 19, he became the first Irish songwriter to win the Nashville-based International Songwriting Competition. By the time he turned 21, he had signed to a major label and released his debut album.
With his latest album release, simply titled ‘Mick Flannery’, the singer touches on loose themes of ambition and the search for a meaningful life in the context of a musician’s sometimes feckless and dysfunctional lifestyle. The central character, he reveals, is someone like him, “although this person achieves more notoriety than I have. He is properly famous, and he has to deal with that.”
The loose theme is just that, however. “I’m not going to hammer it home. Facets of the theme are on the album, but the storyline itself isn’t an overarching one – each song can stand on its own, and not need to be part of a narrative.”
Songs on the album reference reputation and ego, emotional search and rescue, socio-cultural intransigence, flawed or unreliable love, moral collapse and loss of status. Whether or not the listener locks onto the themes or topics is irrelevant, says Mick. “There are a few relationship songs on the album that don’t necessarily marry into anything; I see them as a background thing, although with value.”
Threading a line throughout is Mick’s uncanny knack for blending melody with thought-provoking lyrics. Now in his mid-30s, Mick is fully aware of the internal struggles that come with trying to balance ambitions with whatever life throws your way.
“What happens to a person, sometimes, is that they attach self-worth to their career, and once the career fails then self-worth also plummets. The more weight you put into this persona you’re trying to be, you set yourself up for a bigger fall. It’s the danger of having big ambitions that are based on the external rather the internal.”
As a mature songwriter, he says, he’s trying to hold on to what is essential to him, and resigning himself to the fact that the naïve, passionate 20-something ‘Mick Flannery’ is gone. What comes next, he contends, is much more interesting and experienced. “You have a larger worldview and are more learned, each of which combine to create something new.” At the core of it all is a precise and skilled art form, of which the album is a fine, individualistic example from a songwriter who still aims to knock the competition out of the frame.
“When I mess about with songs, with choruses,” explains Mick, “I try to write the best ones. It’s like a kid kicking around a football on the street – he wants to be Lionel Messi, not a player in a lower division. It’s hard to kill off that level of ambition – I just want to be good at the craft.”
For tickets (€22 each) visit www.westporttheatre.com or call the Westport Town Hall Theatre box office on 098 28459.