First Listen: Kelcy Mae, “Oh How the Whiskey”

It’s our pleasure this week to give you the first listen to “Oh How the Whiskey,” a standout track from the new five-song EP, The Fire by local singer/songwriter Kelcy Mae. Informed by folk, country and bluegrass, the Shreveport-born singer made some waves with her 2011 album Pennies in Hand, which OffBeat singled out for the intelligence of its lyrics. Johnny Sketch of Dirty Notes fame said it was “a bold statement against the stereotypes associated with singer/songwriters. These are songs with guts, with purpose and with legs.” No surprise that she’s also been published as a poet and essayist, she’s even done some journalism for OffBeat.

Kelcy Mae - The Fire

Shreveport's young folk star releases part one of her two-part project, "The Fire" on May 14

The new EP includes an impressive list of local players; among them lead guitarist Alex McMurray, the Revivalists’ drummer Andrew Campanelli and singers Alexis Marceaux and Alexandra Scott. All five tracks are strong, but “Oh How the Whiskey” was the one that really caught our attention. It has the lively feel of a good drinking song; yet the lyrics are deep with foreboding: “Oh how the whiskey means it’s winter/ Oh how the devil loves a sinner/ Oh how the whiskey burns in summer/Pouring like the sweat of a funeral drummer.” The arrangement pulls a neat trick toward the end, as the fiddle and banjo and overtaken by a gospel choir. Whether the singer gets saved or keeps sinning is up to you.
The new EP will be on sale in local stores and through her website beginning next Tuesday, May 14.