With her foot-stomping, sass-filled, no-bones-attitude, Canadian-based singer-songwriter Melissa Plett is set to release her new full-length studio album, Ghost Town, on September 1. Recorded with musician-producer Pat Severs, the eight songs encapsulate Plett's energy, muscular vocals, and personal lyrics into stories that weave life experiences with a laugh and a tear.
Enriched by a lifetime of love and warmth, yet scarred by devastating losses (at the age of 13, she was involved in a vehicular accident that took the life of her cousin and almost cost her her own, and in 2013 she lost her mother to brain cancer), the timing of the release of Ghost Town was very carefully chosen. “In 2010, I released Outside the City on September 2nd, which was one day before my mother’s birthday,” says Plett. “In 2013, almost a year to the date of her diagnosis—and a few weeks after her birthday—my mom lost her battle with cancer. The reason I am releasing Ghost Town when I am is because of how full-circle my life has come in the past seven years. What I thought was the plan seven years ago with Outside the City was not the right time….what is happening now is I know I’m in the right spot. I feel there is a huge significance in celebrating this ‘full-circle’ by releasing my new album so close to the anniversary of my last release and just a few days before my mother’s birthday yet again… After all, my mom was the first one to encourage me to wail.”
TDC is honored to premiere one of the album's tracks, "Sunshine and Liquor." Written by Plett, who conveys the emotional force of the song with strength and confidence, "Sunshine and Liquor" is a dynamic roots rocker about the many facets of our individual selves and the ways in which we allow them to be seen. Plett explained the story behind the song,
"Oh gosh, this song is so important to me. I can totally remember the moment in which the first line came to me. The sun was beaming through the window as I turned off of New Shackle Island onto Long Hollow Pike in Gallatin, TN, and I randomly (or so it seemed at the time) thought, "She's sunshine and liquor, bourbon and lace." I legit shouted "GAH!," pulled the vehicle to the side of the road, and starting writing!
There are so many different ways we are perceived to be. How our friends see us, how our colleagues see us, our parents, family, strangers... they all see us in different ways. We show ourselves to them in different ways depending on the relationship and varied dynamics. Then there's the way we actually see ourselves. What our ongoing thoughts really, truly, are. And how, at the end of the day, after it's all said it done, we all (for the most part) want to be living pure and positive lives, although the reality is often a lot more messy along the way.
"Sunshine & Liquor" was both a fairly quick write and a labor of love... I personally connect with this song on so many different levels and want to do it justice when I perform it. Honestly, I wrote this song and didn't even do my usual live "test run" at a show. I still haven't. I wrote it and took it to the studio. The first time actually performing it will be at my pre-release party August 30th, and I can't wait!"
Recorded in Nashville at Omnisound Studio, the tune blends swelling harmonies, catchy hooks, and dare you not to join in hand claps and foot stomps. Plett described the process of recording the song in the studio,
"This was one of my favorite in-studio moments. Like I said, I wrote the song and hadn't played it live. So I was nervous to hear what would come out in the studio. I knew I was probably going to be the most "bossy" on this track too because I had this thought in mind and I wanted it just so. Oh man... did those musicians deliver!! Seriously! Not gonna lie, from the count in through the entire first take it was exactly, exactly what I heard in my head!
There was a point where I asked if I could just listen and not sing. And there, in my little vocal booth, I had my first Nashville studio solo dance party! It was fantastic!
Then, of course, the foot stomping and claps... I'll never forget that moment. Pat Severs and I huddled around one little mic tracking and layering our stomps and claps in the hallway of his studio at home. I love that memory, and I love the fact that he had to correct me on when to stomp and when to clap on my own song a few times! I think I was just so dang excited I kept losing focus!"
The song title is an interesting study in contrasts with sunshine implying the "light" sides of one's personalities and liquor the "dark." When asked whether that was the intent Melissa noted,
"Boom! You're exactly right! Dark and light sides to us all! Honestly, nothing in this song was intentional. It just naturally came out like this, and I'm so excited you verbalized it that way! It's perfect.
I'm not the kind of songwriter that goes, "Ok, trees... I want to write about trees..." and then goes and looks at one and tries to come up with some deep and meaningful scenario about trees (for example). Every song I write has been based on some feeling, some moment, or some thing I've observed, and then I try my best to express what's going on inside of me with words.
Melissa’s influences come from a musical immersion that began at birth, where she developed a personal relationship with the down-south storytelling of Johnny Cash, the pioneering tell-all nature of Kitty Wells, and the heart-wrenching tales of hardship from Etta James and Ray Charles. So....we asked Plett, if she could have any artist cover this song, who would it be?
Ooooh, that's a good question... I actually had to think about this one. I'm gonna have to say, Tina Turner or Aretha Franklin. I was thinking about this question and the power and energy of "Proud Mary" popped into my mind with the heart-wrenching soul of "Son of a Preacher" right behind. Gosh... can you imagine?!
With the record release rapidly approaching, what's next for Melissa Plett?
I'm getting set to shoot another music video and then hopefully tour my life away! Plus I'm already writing for my next album!!
But honestly, if I have learned anything over the years, it's that you can plan all you want but really you have to stay open to which way you're led. I felt led to get in my car, and head to Nashville, from there led to Pat Severs, led to this song, and so on and so on. I'm excited, on fire, and believe that as long as I keep focused on living a life filled with light, love, and inspiration (with music as my vessel), I'm the happiest Canadian foot-stomper out there and this is just the beginning!
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