Premiere: The Sober Edge of Melissa Plett’s “Handle of Whisky”

Melissa Plett © Annick Marion
Melissa Plett © Annick Marion

Melissa Plett’s not the kind of person you’d find sipping time away with a bottle of booze, but that doesn’t keep her from singing about it. Her rollicking new single “Handle of Whisky” is a classic country rock tune with an edge, an ode not so much to alcohol, as it is to that state of mind we sometimes achieve from its consumption – whether that means contemplating life, or forgetting about our problems altogether.

Listen: “Handle of Whisky” – Melissa Plett
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Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Handle of Whisky,” the latest single off Melissa Plett’s upcoming album Ghost Town (independently out September 1, 2017). A not-so-sober tune about one of humankind’s most popular past-times, “Handle of Whisky” finds Montreal-based Americana singer/songwriter Melissa Plett delivering an impassioned sermon of control, or perhaps lack thereof.

Ghost Town - Melissa Plett
Ghost Town – Melissa Plett

That’s the thing about drinking: Sometimes we drink for the sake of drinking; other times we drink to avoid thoughts; still other times we drink to dive into those thoughts. Plett’s song offers a little of one, and a little of the other; she’s escaping as much as she is indulging as she sings about a love she couldn’t help but to succumb to, until it left her for someone else.

You’re like a passionate Tennessee storm
Your touch is gentle as the rain on my skin
Then like the rolling thunder passing by
So you’ll blow up again
I’ve got a handle of good whiskey
Don’t have a handle on my heart
I’m gonna sit here in this silence
I’m gonna drink away these thoughts

“Handle of Whisky” is a coping mechanism – a means by which Plett enables herself to roll with the punches, soldier on just like everybody else. Moreover, it’s a perfect display of what listeners can expect from her forthcoming record: Honest emotions in relatable situations.

Dive deeper “Handle of Whisky” and Melissa Plett in the interview below, and don’t miss Ghost Town, independently out September 1st, 2017!

Melissa Plett © Annick Marion
Melissa Plett © Annick Marion


Atwood Magazine: What inspired you to write this song? Was it the need for some liquid salve for a broken heart of your own, or was this a more general heartbreak-needs-fixing song?

Melissa Plett: While in Nashville recording demo tracks and having a bit of a writing trip, I was spending the evening alone at my friend’s beautiful home on the rolling hills of Gallatin. At some point she sent me a text saying the garage fridge was stocked full of beer and coolers, the interior one with bubbles, and I could find liquor in the cabinets. I thought to myself, “Oh gosh, imagine I just sat here alone, getting drunk. How sad would THAT be?!” And just as that thought crossed my mind, a storm started to roll in… the rain poured down, the wind blew, the power went out, and as quickly as it came it passed. As all these moments happened, the song just started to flow out of me…

What was it like working on this one in the studio? Got any great stories about how this one came together? Did it turn out like you imagined it would before you went into the studio?

Melissa Plett: I had been doing demo tracks with Pat Severs for about a year before we finally got a band together for the studio. I knew I had an awesome relationship with him, and I was fairly certain he had a good idea as to who I was, but I always think that people don’t really seem to get me. However, when Pat started explaining the track to the band and giving descriptions to set the mood — like they were to picture themselves in some dirty mining community in the middle of nowhere northern Canada, that they should imagine it’s a Friday night at the only pub in town, and they haven’t seen a woman in months. I remember thinking, “Oh my goodness. Yes. That’s exactly it!” I hadn’t even thought of it that way! But the mood he created was perfect, and clearly they guys totally got it because they hammered this song out better then I had it originally in my head. It was such a mind-blowing experience to listen to them turn my little seed of a song into this amazing creation! And the fact that they just kept jamming and jamming on it until the amazing drummer, Wayne Killius, finally had to call the end of the jam… I’m pretty sure that was one of the recording highlights for me. And, not gonna lie, Pat’s visualization for the band definitely effected my vocal performance in a positive way as well. It was just so dang fun!

Do you have a favorite kind of whiskey?

Melissa Plett: I gotta be honest with you, I’ll have to do a little more “sample research” on this as I’m definitely more of a red wine, or Captain Morgan on ice kind of girl, but I do like Dalwhinnie scotch whisky. Although I’m pretty certain that doesn’t come in a handle. Hahaha!

I know you co-produced this album. What was it like to work with Pat Severs? What do you think being in and recording in Nashville brought to the album overall?

Melissa Plett: I don’t even know where to begin talking about Pat Severs… honestly. I am beyond blessed our paths crossed and that he decided to work with me. It’s amazing how different we can be, yet we’re totally like-minded. I don’t think we’ve actually disagreed on anything up until now (knock on wood). There have been times where one of us may have suggested something and the other person had to think about it for a while, but in the end, we’ve always seemed to agree on everything. Pat is so amazingly gifted as a musician and as a producer, and I am dumbfounded at how well he has been able to “get me” and capture me exactly how I’ve always hoped. Honestly, he is truly an amazing gift from God.

As for what Nashville brought to the album — completeness. My heart and soul feels alive and at home there and the group of guys that worked on my album captured Melissa Plett the way she has never been able to be captured before. (Wow, I can’t believe I just talked in the third person there… but you get what I’m saying.) And anyone who’s ever recorded in Nashville does too. There is no other place in the world that has that kind of heart, soul, and history that honestly seems to soak into your pores while you work.

Who are your biggest music inspirations and influences?

Melissa Plett: This is quite a long list… but my biggest, since childhood, would have to be first and foremost Johnny Cash. Followed extremely closely by Etta James and Kitty Wells (if I have to break it down).

You talk in the press materials about your mom encouraging you to 'let your wail out.' What do you think she would think of this song and the album overall?

Melissa Plett: Hahaha!! My mom always “pretended” she was offended when I sang anything about alcohol. But I’m fairly certain she understood why the lyrics applied to particular songs. However, I can see her expression now if she heard this song. She’d have a little half-smile again, pretending to say it’s “not appropriate” but her eyes would be twinkling with joy. As for the entire album, I can feel her smiling down with pride now.

Honestly, the first time I pulled into Nashville I got this weird vision of Mom smirking and saying, “Just you wait and see… you have no idea what’s about to happen.” And that’s stuck with me for the past two years. I know she’s doing her little fist-pump dance of pride up there.

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Ghost Town - Melissa Plett

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cover © Annick Marion

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