You should listen to this girl. She made me smile, caught my attention in just seconds. She is a good remedy for a cloudy Tuesday in December. I felt very alive when I went outside this morning. The wind was gentle, the temperature was just cold enough to make me aware, but not cold enough to freeze my soul. The sky was full and active. I spent a while standing outside of my car, watching the clouds rushing past me, making me feel infinitely small. Then I went to work and I love my job, but…you know how those Tuesdays go.
Mackenzie Shivers caught me in the opening notes of her premier album, Neverland. The first song is the kind that you don’t find often enough. Shivers sings acapella, only a clapping beat and a second, harmonic voice helping her draw the picture of two people running off to dance, and wander, and discover. “Hey, Marie, come follow me. Follow me down to the sea. We’ll dance until our bones don’t ache, love until our hearts can’t break.” This carefree life looks like sunshine from where I’m sitting. The voices are carefree and beautiful.
The transition into “Nothing to Fear” seems a bit harsh at first. The starkness of a song sung without instruments is made very clear when a piano is heard. But as soon as the vocals begin, it seems perfect. This song is only the next part of the story, the part where life has worries and cares but we can put them aside because of the other humans who bring us joy.
I love the piano. Those musky, mellow tones really make this album what it is, they are the perfect companion to Shivers’ bright soprano voice. “Neverland” is another song about love, about falling into life and companionship with another human, about learning to keep each other company, give each other hope. The lyrics are lofty and dynamic, handing you photographs, offering you glimpses into scenes of life.
Each of these songs sounds familiar. The piano is nostalgic, Shivers’ voice is timeless. It soars like a bird and hums like a dragonfly. Sometimes it sounds like strings and sometimes like woodwind. “Neverland” is a perfectly curated album. It gave me chills all the way through. It was a lifetime of youth sung by the voice that has lived it, and seen it, and heard the stories about it. I cannot wait to hear more from Mackenzie Shivers. If you live in or around New York City–go see her live and tell me about it. Thank you.