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It’s been a long time between drinks – as the expression goes – but the message-rich new single from South Island country songstress Katie Thompson, Alcohol & Pills, is out now...

Recorded, mixed and produced by Ben Edwards at his Sitting Room studio in Lyttelton, it’s a rockingly sad/sweet rendition of a song described as a haunting hymn to fallen stars. Written by Canadian country singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith and originally released in 1997, Alcohol & Pills pretty much has its own 12-step programme of cover versions.

A curious choice perhaps for the first single release in several years, it’s the only cover included on her forthcoming third album ‘Bittersweet’. Katie says she’s loved this song for a long time, and Edwards’ endorsed it as a single choice. (And let’s face it, he knows more than most about what makes for a hit country song in these parts.)

Talking about his track Eaglesmith states simply, "I didn’t really write it about addiction, I was just trying to write a song" For Katie the message of Alcohol & Pills lies deeper than the evident focus of its title.

"It’s a great piece of country music, but also profound as a warning. A warning not to allow your happiness to rest on your career – for that to be your only focus,” she explains.

“’...fame don't take away the pain, it just pays the bills,’ is a line that has always struck a chord with me. I find it overwhelmingly sad to think that any artist can hit the peak of their career and still feel incomplete, and look for ways to escape from it.”

Now eight years along life’s windy road since her sophomore release, Katie returns with plenty of inspiration and a voice that’s only sweetened with time.

Available now, Alcohol & Pills is the first single from Katie Thompson’s impressively far-reaching third album ‘Bittersweet’ – more details to follow.