Today, New York-based, folk-pop artist Mackenzie Shivers shared a new single and music video, “a cautionary tale,” the lead track from her forthcoming album primrose was in season which is due in Spring 2024. On the album, Shivers boldly gives a glimpse into her healing process after losing her first pregnancy, triumphantly capturing a depth of feeling that illuminates both her resilience and vulnerability. Electric guitar, a mix of dance beats and organic drums, and Shivers’s trademark piano bolster her most adventurous work to-date.
With the ethereal pop opener “a cautionary tale,” Shivers examines who she is in the wake of loss and transition, capturing an internal struggle to confess that she’s not always as put together as she seems, all while pulling the listener into a stunning musical terrain.
Watch “a cautionary tale” Music Video
“The creation of ‘a cautionary tale’ and the subsequent nine tracks that would make up my upcoming album was creative and buoyant, bringing joy to a very difficult time in my life,” states Shivers. “I was struggling to get pregnant and stay pregnant. I felt like the odds were against me, like I couldn't gain control of my own life. But in the studio, I felt like I had some control over what I was making, and I was also having a blast.
“For ‘a cautionary tale,’ we layered organic textures like pump organ and pots and pans with drum beats and samples to create something hi-fi yet handmade. Driving my foot into the organ petal felt like a meditation, and with each press I let go of a little bit of anger. I felt a little more like myself with each piano take. And what took shape was my own version of dream pop, a world in which I could both escape and process a lot of difficult feelings.”
When Mackenzie Shivers creates music, it’s as if it demands to be heard. The Hudson Valley based singer-songwriter began writing music and playing piano when she was four years old, telling her mother she had “music locked inside of her that needed to come out.” Her writing provides a conduit for complex emotions, untangling as they poke through the surface, yearning to be explored and set free.
Her fourth full-length album primrose was in season, produced by frequent collaborator Kevin Salem (Rachel Yamagata, Emmylou Harris), is vivid feminine alt-folk, a powerful portrait of inner fragility and strength that’s at once gossamer and deeply profound. The ten new compositions intertwine magic with grief, illustrating the two can, and often do, co-exist. Shivers’ sound is constantly evolving yet instantly recognizable.
With primrose was in season, she proves her artistry is as versatile and definitive as the title’s early spring bloom. She is someone who is unafraid to grow, to dig, to unearth all sides of herself. The self-portrait she paints is honest and flawed, shimmering and spirited. The title, a lyric from the gritty and grooving “Hush Now”, holds meaning beyond its wistful beauty. The primrose, signaling the end of winter with its vast array of colors, has a reputation for healing wounds.
“This album has been an empowering way for me to move forward,” says Shivers. “And I hope it gives listeners a space to feel any and all things. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this process, it’s that nothing you feel is wrong. Feeling all emotions is the only way to move through them. Maybe even towards joy.”