Chad Walls and Sam Anderson from An Overnight Low. Photo by Karen Poulin-Anderson

Flight delays are dreaded by most travelers, but not musician Chad Walls. The nine hours he spent at London’s Heathrow airport continues to bear fruit for his band, An Overnight Low, which is releasing its fifth album, “Connolly, Part Two” on Friday.

An Overnight Low, formed in 2014, is the Portland-based pop-rock duo comprising Walls on bass, drums, ukulele, percussion and vocals and Sam Anderson on guitar and lead vocals. Put your tray table in its upright and locked position, and I’ll unpack the delay that launched countless songs.

In 2006, Walls was on his way home after a stint working on his doctorate in education at University of Manchester. While waiting for his flight, Walls poured over all of the pictures, videos and interviews he had collected during his time overseas. Out of this process, the seeds for songs started to germinate.

Over many cups of coffee, he organized everything he had into specific laptop folders while waiting in the terminal. As the hours passed, common themes began to reveal themselves from a series of unrelated moments, and songs began to emerge. Walls said that those themes were homesickness, regret, curiosity and self-discovery. I thank the travel gods for making this flight late because it clearly changed the course of history for Walls.

Many of the tracks on the new album were inspired by that unplanned writing session. The same could be said for the band’s four previous releases, all of which are named after train stations Walls frequented while in Manchester, England: “Euston” (2014), “Piccadilly” (2015), “Waverly” (2017) and “Connolly, Part One” (2020).

An Overnight Low’s sound has a British feel to it, a la XTC, Elvis Costello or The Housemartins, with a bit of an R.E.M. thread running through some of their earlier stuff.

Walls’ songwriting in “Connolly, Part Two” is a masterclass in cleverness, and the songs flow into each other as each tale is unpacked, beginning with “Surfeit Safari.” First off, I had to look up “surfeit” in the dictionary, and it means excessive or an excessive amount. This is the only track on which Walls sings lead vocals, and he nails it with clear, crisp pipes.

“I miss messing around with your ego, incognito, wearing sequins/You did a dance designed by gin-soaked bravado.” The words spill out of Walls quickly, but clearly, so the listener can appreciate the art of his lyrics.

An Overnight Low’s “Connolly, Part Two” album cover art. Image courtesy of the artist.

Anderson is on lead for the rest of the album, and like Walls, he’s got a clarity to his voice that draws me into the lyrics, which in this case were penned by Walls and Anderson together.

“Dover Thrift Edition,” Walls told me, is about becoming a condensed version of yourself. “Even though you’re putting yourself out there, no one seems to be listening to the parts you want them to hear,” he said.

He explained that Dover Thrift Edition is the name of cheap paperback versions of public-domain classics published by Dover Publications.

“Because Dover Thrift Editions are so cheap, people don’t feel bad about discarding them to make room for new books. I think that’s how we are all starting to feel during the pandemic,” he said.

Walls started working on the song pre-pandemic, when he’d go to the bookstore Elements in Biddeford to write, but then the store closed last March, and he had to finish it at home.

“Paracetamol Philistines” is another standout track. “Faith and fortune doesn’t matter/chutes and ladders,” sings Anderson against a warm acoustic guitar and piano. Again, I went to the dictionary to find out that paracetamol is a mild analgesic used as an alternative to aspirin. Dare I say, I feel smarter listening to An Overnight Low?

“Caterpillar” is a time machine back to the late ’60s and the likes of Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints.” Listening to the song, I find myself wanting to grab my desperate-to-go-somewhere passport and hopping on the first flight to London, delayed or not.

“Connolly, Part Two” will be available on all streaming platforms, and you can find physical copies at Bull Moose locations.

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