FIRST THERE WERE FEATHERS
coming spring 2023
photos by Holy Smoke Photography
Wendy McNeill’s new album, ‘First There Were Feathers’ is a dive into deep time and dark waters, with poetry, lyrics and grooves to match- a blend of myth and memoir that explores our connection to birds and how their fate is linked with our own.
It has been said that Wendy McNeill’s songs walk a tightrope between the intimate and the otherworldly. Her new album, ‘First There Were Feathers’, is a glowing example of this style and her way of blending personal stories with myths and legends.
After a large forest fire decimated much of the area around her home, Wendy was deeply affected by the changed landscape- and most profoundly, by the silence. This silence left her sifting through memories to recall what was- the sounds of wind through pine trees, insects buzzing through underbrush, and the calls of birds.
As she witnessed the alarming increase in wildfires globally, combined with more ‘unprecedented weather events’, ‘natural disasters’ and the continued rapid destruction of wild spaces in what is referred to as the Anthropocene epoch (the age of the human)- Wendy felt compelled to understand how and why we have arrived at this strange juncture in which we clever humans can feel so disconnected from the vast natural network that made and maintains us.
Over the next 4 years, Wendy researched, read, and wrote. When the heavy statistics were too much, she took refuge in long walks with her dogs through the rocky remains of the forest. As the post fire days added up into a year- she witnessed new growth and greenery. Two years later, the dense undergrowth was buzzing with insects. Three years later- butterflies and birds arrived. The old pines will not return in her lifetime, but her writing, which began as a love letter to all that we’ve lost, grew into a deep conviction that nature can recover and that humanity can help.
But folks won’t save what they don’t love. And folks can’t love what they don’t notice or feel connected to. So Wendy enlisted her favourite creative tool- weaving stories and music into songs that can blast the heart wide open and hopefully let some new insights trickle in. She sings about, and for, those on the frontline of these times- the literal 'canaries in the coal mines'. Drawing from scientific studies, personal experience, classic literature and myth, ‘First There Were Feathers” is an album about the beauty, mystery and resilience of birds and how our fate is intimately connected with theirs.
Produced by Wendy McNeill(working closely with engineer Ake Linton) and featuring the innovative and groove heavy force of Dan Berglund on double bass and Christopher Cantillo on drums, ‘First There Were Feathers’ weaves Wendy’s layers of vocals, kalimba, mellotron, accordion, guitar, synth and beats with several of her favourite musical collaborators on musical saw, accordion, french horn, trumpet, violin, celesta, pump organ, vibraphone and marimba
Coming in March 2023
we gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts