At a young age, Mackenzie told her mom that she had music inside her “that needed to come out.” Her mother would check in on her at night to find her fingers playing the piano in her sleep. She wrote her first song as a four-year-old, and at age eight she would go to the movies and come right home to figure out the score on the piano. Always at the mercy of the muse inside, Shivers has continued honing her craft ever since. Music is more than just a listening experience, and Shivers’ music brings life to her sound by painting a picture of a colorful world where spirits can run free.
Art moves us, it puts a fire beneath our soul and creates imagery in our minds that connects to the beautiful things around us. Some of the boldest women in music like Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell have done this, and so has Shivers. The experiences that submerged Mackenzie Shivers into her craft include a degree in music composition from Vanderbilt University, which also gained her access to Nashville’s vibrant country scene.
She underpins her classical training with an emotional essence that blossom together like bright buds as they bloom atop a proud and prolific tree. Though she’s lived in NYC for a decade, Shivers’ music reflects many different landscapes. You can hear it all, from the influence of the South, where she spent her childhood years visiting family in Florida, Georgia, and Texas, to the Irish and Scottish heritage which lends her music a distinctly Celtic flavor. Each musical element is branch of that mystical blooming tree, lining each side of a path she paves for the listener to get perfectly misplaced in wanderlust.
Her EP Ravens marries whimsy with raw emotion. Inspired by playing sessions in Ireland, the recording centers around collaboration and heart. The arrangements are stripped down and haunting, yet contain warmth and character aided by string arrangements courtesy of Sarah Elizabeth Haines (violin, viola) and Yuka Tadano (bass). Produced by Cody Rahn (also on drums) and mixed by Kevin Salem (Rachael Yamagata), these recordings give the sense that you're in the room with Shivers and her band. Ravens contains three original songs and closes with an austere yet emotive rendition of the Scottish traditional “The Parting Glass.” Citing the time during which she wrote these tracks as both harrowing and hopeful, Shivers succeeds in creating a collection that is uplifting and mournful, sometimes in equal measures.
Like her influences Aoife O’Donovan and Olivia Chaney, Shivers’ voice is clear and unmistakable. It seems especially suited to this group of songs and their well-captured intimacy. Listening to her work leaves you in no doubt that you’ve entered the vibrant and imaginative world of its creator. As with all true artists, Shivers’ sound is both constantly evolving yet instantly recognizable. With Ravens, she unquestionably makes her mark on the world of folk and traditional music, leaving a lasting impression on every listener. Shivers takes each sound, each vocal utterance, and nurtures them in their simplest form. Like individual colors on an artist’s palette, knowing which pieces to blend together and which to lay side by side, Shivers has a discernible skill for being able to distinguish contrast and focus all in the same view. The colors, textures, and entire landscape itself allures and charms the listener, pulling them into the stunning musical terrain.