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Milwaukee Music Premiere: Allison Mahal, ‘Winter’

Maddie Walczak (@madelinewalczak)
Courtesy of the artist

Every week, Milwaukee Music Premiere connects the city’s artists with our listening audience. If you’re an artist with a track you’d like us to debut exclusively on Radio Milwaukee, head over to our Music Submission page to learn how.

Is this the most on-the-nose Milwaukee Music Premiere ever? Perhaps. Does it become even more so when discovering that it’s the first track off a project called Solstice, due to come out one week before the first official day of winter? Possibly. What’s certain is that, with the song we’re debuting here, Allison Mahal has given us a wonderful way to usher in this chilliest time of year.

A relatively recent addition to the city’s music scene, Mahal’s bona fides are beyond approach. While her roots are in the Chicago area, seven years in Nashville sharpened her abilities and resulted in the potent talent you can hear on “Winter” — a pointedly reflective piece of music from upcoming EP, Solstice.

Cover art from Allison Mahal's EP <i>Solstice</i>.
Cover art from Allison Mahal's EP <i>Solstice</i>.

The song got its start during last year’s seasonal shift out of fall and, appropriately, a transitional moment for Mahal. “I was feeling burnt out by music and reflecting on what’s actually important to me in life: walking my dog, calling my sister, spending time with my partner and surrounding myself with community,” she shared with us. “There’s nothing I love more than writing, creating and performing my songs, but ‘Winter’ exposes some of the insecurities and struggles I face as an independent artist.”

That feeling is as sharp as a blast off Lake Michigan as Mahal sings, “Winter stings / I’ve been / Protecting my peace / That’s why / You haven’t heard from me / And you won’t until next year.”

The unburdening doesn’t seem to come from a place of bitterness, though. Maybe it’s Mahal’s warmly sweet voice. Maybe it’s the cozy instrumentation led by delicate percussion and guitar. Maybe it’s both, along with a chorus that focuses instead on the good there is now and will be in the future:

I need lakeside, July
Calling my sister every weeknight
Reminding you how much I’m into you
Pay my respects to the girl I was
Look ahead to the year to come

“It felt liberating writing this one,” Mahal said to close out her notes accompanying the song. “It made me feel even more grateful for the people I have in my life.”

You can listen to “Winter” using the player at the top of the page or catch it as part of the 88Nine playlist, and pre-save Mahal’s upcoming EP via the link here or directly through your streaming service of choice. You also have a couple chances to catch her live in the weeks ahead: this Friday as part of Collective Flow’s live music series and Dec. 29 opening for Jane O’Neill at Pabst Brewery’s Best Place.