Like the alcoholic beverage of her namesake, Melisa Whiskey is a musician with dividing flavours. Born in Hackney, but brought up in a council flat in Camden, Melisa’s musical interests scope from Bob Marley and Tupac, to country legends such as John Denver and Patsy Cline. To an onlooker, it would seem near impossible to pack such a broad spectrum of musical influences into a single product – and yet Melisa Whiskey does it so articulately that it makes you question the true power of breaking genres.
Her music resonates with the R&B ghosts that linger around the popular charts, soothing intense beats with lyrics so tender that it could easily underscore an inner-city speakeasy or coffee shop. The penultimate track, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ – from her recent Moon + The Sky EP – epitomises this collaboration, with its softened strings and twinkling keys, sustained by its rhythmic scaffolding.
Like the Scotch whisky of the Highlands, Melisa Whiskey’s music lingers at the tail end of tasting. It withholds a sense of authority within any playlist due to Melisa’s precisely powerful vocals, tracing perfect licks effortlessly down plastic headphones. Her voice simply hovers above the musicality of her sound. No other track reveals this as explicitly as her most recent single, ‘Cuffin or Cuttin’.
Her vocal range is extenuated through the repeated chorus, appearing to be addressing an ex-lover who has been busy “trying to chase her commas” and “making her look like a fool”. Her angers and frustrations are translated into harmonies and melodies – Melisa is sophisticated in her song writing. Like the addition of water to bring out the flavours of a perfectly aged Bourbon, Melisa’s vocals do just the same. Her beats resemble the thud of Drum & Bass in its most rudimentary form, yet it is her vocals that enable the listener to encapsulate the emotion, not just the bass.
Melisa Whiskey can indeed be compared to many artists that are amongst the charts at the moment. She has great lyrical awareness, natural musicality and a voice that holds its own without a glimpse of immediate production. Yet, it is her diverse application and decimation of genres – or ‘flavours’ for the sake of the metaphor – that truly gives her an edge over her contemporaries.
Featured Image by Rio Romaine.
Words by Tom Moodey.