This week’s featured Rising artist is Canadian country singer, Belle Plaine — born Melanie Hankewich. She just released her third record independently on October 19, Malice, Mercy, Grief & Wrath, which tells the tale of personal growth — and shows off to great effect her rich and comforting classic country stylings.
Belle is a fan of the romance of classic country music — and the nostalgic lyricism that gives the genre its unshakeable appeal. Belle adheres to this tradition, applying the touchstones of the genre to her own life: from the acceptance of her and her deceased parent’s mortality on “Golden Ring,” to her personal shortcomings on “Squared Up.” Family and loved ones also crop up in the record, including her partner, country singer Blake Berglund, who regularly collaborates with Belle. The whole record unfolds over the backdrop of her home, the Canadian prairie.
Belle is not the first country artist to come from Saskatchewan. There’s also Colter Wall, Kacy Anderson and Megan Nash, who appear on the record, singing alongside Belle. The collaborators on the album all feel like kindred spirits — guests at Belle’s small, warm party. This feeling of camaraderie could spring from the tight-knit circles of Saskatchewanian artists that Belle works with, or it could come from the ease with which the artists can find their role in her well-crafted songs.
The rollicking “Is It Cheating?” with Colter Wall’s vocal accompaniment is a throwback to the lovelorn duets of classic country — a seemingly heartbreaking story with a bit of a wink. “Golden Ring” is a self-assured exploration into the fragility of life, supported by Megan Nash’s fiery backing vocals. Kacy Anderson (of Kacy & Clayton) slides into the appropriately titled album closer, “Rock Bottom,” which can be heard as a supportive friend vouching for and validating her friend’s worrisome worldview.
We are proud to further spotlight Belle Plaine’s music and Melanie Hankewich’s personal growth this week on TIDAL Rising with a curated playlist and in-depth Q&A. Stay tuned.