Story Behind the Song: Natalie Stovall’s “Wine or Whiskey”

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with artist Natalie Stovall, star of NBC’s The Voice and powerhouse vocalist. Natalie recently released an emotional and moving new single, “Wine or Whiskey,” written by Lori McKenna, Jimi Westbrook and the late Andrew Dorff. Below, Natalie recalls how “Wine or Whiskey” came to be.

What was the recording process like? Were any of the song writers there?

There was a lot of magic around recording this song. We had been wanting to record with producer, Brad Hill, for a long time and he was also immediately drawn to this song. My band (James Bavendam on drums, Joel Dormer on guitar and Adam Beard on bass) added a couple of our favorite musicians to the mix — Rob McNelley on guitars and David Dorn on keys. As we were playing the demo of the song, Rob goes, “Wait! That’s me! I played on the demo for this!” which was cool that he had been there at it’s origin. And then while I was sequestered in LA for The Voice, Jimi Westbrook was gracious enough to come in and put his background vocals on the song to take it to the next level! I was so bummed that I couldn’t be in the studio, but the day he was recording it, I was actually on stage rehearsing Little Big Town’s “Boondocks” for the show. I loved the cosmic coincidence of that whole situation!

The song is a sonic shift for you, how did you know this was the direction you wanted to go in?

It all happened so naturally. We knew we wanted to push ourselves and this song was the perfect way to do so. It needed to sound and feel different from a lot of the music I have written and recorded previously.I had been listening to Brad Hill’s work and after the first meeting with him, we knew he was our guy. The combination of new players with my guys and Brad’s ideas… I just felt like we were all speaking the same language musically!

How do you want listeners to feel when they hear they song? Your vocal tone is very haunting and draws listeners in.

I had to work really hard on the restraint in my voice on this one. After years spent on the road with a live band, I can have the tendency to sing like I’m always singing “over a band”. But this song speaks so much louder when I hold back. The music and the lyric are all about “hanging in the balance” and living in that sacred and sometimes scary moment when life is about to take a huge turn. So my vocal had to match that feeling. Brad was so great to work with and pushed me to go much further out of my comfort zone which was something I KNEW I needed.

Tell us about filming the music video. What was that like?

The music video was done in Dallas with Distillery Media. I am very close with the director, Randy Peterson, and have worked with his team before on the Heartbreak video with The Drive. I needed to work with people I trusted and knew on this one because I needed to let my heart show. It’s a much more intense and contemplative look for me which is not always easy to accomplish! And TRUST is really the key word. I knew once we started talking about the concept of the video that these guys would accomplish it and let my vulnerability show through. It’s the most intimate video I’ve ever shot and somehow still has a larger than life element to it.

What’s next for Natalie Stovall?

New music! We have a new song that is slated to come out at the end of March!