Through her new single, Mackenzie Shivers poses the question, “Can I be afraid, and still be free?” “Afraid” is a slow burn both musically and thematically, offering respite through empathy as its subject matter explores the lasting power of grief. Shivers carries the weight of the song’s emotional heft, tenderly delivering a lyric that ruminates on longing and inner anguish. Piano, percussion, and strings carry the thought-provoking, haunting ballad’s careful instrumentation.
Shivers’ “Afraid” is met by a stirring music video, directed by Britannie Bond and Marco Pitruzella. Starring and choreographed by Candice Schnurr, the video accentuates the song’s themes as she dances through entwinements. Bond says, “‘Afraid’ evokes an image of a woman getting tangled in her thoughts, and through trying to release herself of them, finds herself still burdened with fear and longing. You can move through grief, but it never goes away.”
Shivers tells PopMatters, “Soon after I recorded Rejection Letter, I happened upon Britannie Bond’s ‘We Move Lightly’ photo series, which explores the vestiges of intimacy on the landscape of the body, the elusiveness of memory, and finally the physical transformation that occurs in the wake of subjectivity. I thought it was ethereal and bold and strange and beautiful, and I felt it really matched the vibe of ‘Afraid’. I reached out to Britannie about making a music video, and she created this beautiful film that serves as a visual manifestation of the anxiety and movement in ‘Afraid’.”
“Afraid” is featured on Shivers’ new LP, Rejection Letter, which released earlier this year.