VIDEO PREMIERE: Mackenzie Shivers Works Through Anger with Dreamy Folk-rock Song “Martha’s Vineyard”

Mackenzie Shivers was stuck on Cape Cod.

At the onset of the worldwide pandemic, Shivers, along with her husband, decamped to the Cape from their home in Queens, intent on waiting out the proverbial storm at a family friend’s vacant oceanside home. They soon realized they might be waiting a long time and, for the next three months, Shivers and her husband, along with their friend who owned the house, hunkered down far from their New York City apartments.

Inspired by the change in scenery and the serenity offered by a resort town in the offseason, songs began pouring out of Shivers. On Cape Cod, however, Shivers wasn’t armed with a piano, the instrument she’s been writing songs on for over three decades. Rather, she had brought along a nylon-stringed guitar that her father had gifted her years earlier, one his grandmother had bought for him decades before.

With the time afforded by quarantine, Shivers began digging into the heirloom guitar—which she dubbed “Murphy” after a few rounds of polishing courtesy of an old tube of Murphy’s Oil Soap—focusing on honing her playing and exploring the instrument in ways she never had before. Shivers credits the rediscovery of the instrument only partially for the deluge of songs she wrote while on Cape Cod.

In her quarantine, she shed any sort of self-imposed pressure that had always imbued her experience as a songwriter. She also began to experiment with alternate tunings, guided by online guitar tutorials that singer/songwriter Laura Marling was hosting during her own lockdown. It was this freeform approach of exploration combined with a lack of boundaries that led to a newfound sense of joy and fun in Shivers’s songcraft.

Before Shivers headed to Cape Cod, however, she had already written the thirteen songs she thought would comprise her new album. But after returning to New York in June, and armed with a batch of new songs written in the vacant Cape Cod house, her entire approach had shifted. With a focus on the new songs and an inability to safely gather people in a studio to record an album, Shivers and her producer and engineer, Kevin Salem, had to rethink their approach to recording the album.

On hearing the demos, both were convinced the album had to be recorded as soon as possible, that it was an important artistic document of this wildly unprecedented time and one that should be captured in as real of time as possible. They decided to record the album piecemeal, starting with Shivers spending a week with Salem at the Hidden Quarry studio in Boiceville, New York, recording her guitar and piano parts, along with her leading and backing vocals.

In the writing and recording of Rejection Letter, which is due out April 2nd, Mackenzie Shivers realized that this collection of songs was her way of combating her nature as a people pleaser, as one who would rather not rock the boat. Rather, the songs that poured out of a old family guitar, on a deserted Cape Cod, in a time where the whole of civilization was ground to a halt, were Shivers’s way of taking ownership of her own voice, her ability to speak up and speak out, and to embrace a rebellious spirit that all artist have somewhere inside themselves.

Today Glide is excited to premiere the music video for “Martha’s Vineyard,” one of the standout songs on the new album. With a mellow and dreamy groove, layers her cool vocals the music in a commanding way before letting them rise and take the spotlight of the track. One can hear similarities to contemporaries like Phoebe Bridgers in Shivers’ voice and music, but she differs in the way she constructs poignant and intimate folk-rock with just enough edge to make you wonder where she will go next. Indeed, this song ends with a haunting, whispery spoken word verse at the end that leaves you wondering. The video features grainy footage of a beach while Shivers strums her acoustic guitar alone, seemingly soaking up the moment and meaning of the song. 

Shivers describes the inspiration behind the song:

“I’m not sure I ever learned healthy ways to express anger. But I’m learning now. I’m much more comfortable with sadness than I am with anger. I think that’s because female anger is so often met with shame and dismissal. That’s certainly been my experience, and it really started to hit home as I wrote this song.”


Photos by Lissyelle Laricchia

Related Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide