Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

Lantern Tour Ad

Q&A With Ever More Nest

By Christopher Treacy

Photo Credit: Summer Dorr

Sometimes, when a song really punches you in the gut, you’re not sure why. The air of mystery is part of what keeps you coming back, to feel the gut-punch again and again, because something within you wants it. Needs it, even. Our relationship to music can be complicated. And we have been known to enjoy stewing in our own juices.

Kelcy Wilburn took some time to chat with us about the new Ever More Nest single, “Wishing Well,” the video for which we premiered, exclusively, in yesterday’s Roundup as our Song of the Week. The track carries that mysterious gut-punch and, as she reveals in our interview, it embodies that very human need to repeatedly revisit our hurts—to feel them again and again.

The accompanying video goes far to drive home the themes of loss, loneliness, grieving, and eventual release, using black and white to create a sense of times past. Director Sarah Devlin does a lot with just a little, using liquid and glass to create visual metaphors and portray distortion, among other things.

Ever More Nest’s sophomore album, Out Here Now, arrives on 8/19 via Parish Road Music. It’s been four years since Wilburn and Co. released their debut, and “Wishing Well” has us excited to hear more.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

There are plenty of songs in the country-western vernacular that talk about drinking, but not usually in such a vulnerable, naked way. Was it challenging to get to this level of honesty?

Honesty is a funny thing in songwriting; sometimes songs spark a difficult tug-of-war between the art and the ego, but for me, the depths of honesty are where the real truths and the gems of language lie. I’ve struggled to allow myself to plumb those depths at times in the past, and I think my songs suffered for it.

I didn’t have that problem with “Wishing Well” because this subject matter—love without closure—offers an endless well of honest emotion to draw from. And drinking offers an endless well for self-pity and rumination on lost causes. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to having gone down that road, so the lyrics and their vulnerability came to me pretty easily.

For me, though, the addiction that appears in this song is less about alcohol and more about living in the past. On this album, I make room for a lot of emotions—I think allowing space for our feelings also allows us to learn from them and grow. In “Wishing Well” the persona is defiantly trying to remain in that emotional place for the “high” …or the low, in this case, that it delivers.

Were you aware of how deeply affecting the song would be, especially delivered by a woman, while you were writing it? It’s heavy! I think some of the heaviness might come from the way that drinking, within the context of the song, isn’t used as some macho means of overcoming something, the way men have often used it in country songs. It’s portrayed differently.

When writing this song, I wasn’t really thinking about the ways others sing about alcohol. I’m sure it was in my subconscious—the way male artists often glorify it—and perhaps I was in some way responding to that. But in my telling, the drinking isn’t meant to chase troubles away; it’s meant to bring the troubles closer. Drinking is the vehicle for feeling the hurt. It’s self-harm, not self-medication. And you’re right—that is heavy.

I haven’t spent much time considering how the song would be perceived coming from a woman’s voice or coming from a woman’s voice writing about another woman. I think a desire to keep feelings alive even—or especially—when they’re negative is fairly universal, no? We humans have such a hard time letting go. As a writer, I try first to give each song the space that it’s asking to occupy and ask questions later.

Which came first, the lyric or the music? The chord progression and interplay between guitar and piano projects a really tangible mournful quality. Are these go-to chords you use to set that tone?

This is a tough question to answer because this song was a years-long struggle to write. The chord progression came first and a flood of lyrics soon followed, but aspects of the music and lyrics didn’t gel or needed shifting around. I actually brought an early version of this song to the studio when I recorded the first Ever More Nest album, The Place That You Call Home, with Neilson [Hubbard] in 2017. It wasn’t ready, so we tossed it. But the song made it clear to me over time that it wasn’t going anywhere, and the pieces eventually came together right before the pandemic—a key change, a slower tempo, a bridge.

It felt so rewarding to bring it to the studio for the second Ever More Nest album four years later and have Neilson and the guys be 100% behind it. I had never played “Wishing Well” live with a band, so hearing it come to life in the studio was an enormous weight off and also pretty moving. It was a special journey achieving that level of darkness with such delicate, beautiful playing from Neilson, Will [Kimbrough], Dean [Marold], and Fats [Kaplin].

Tell us about the video. The B&W creates a sense of timelessness, but it also gives off a certain degree of realness — no color, no soundstage. Just a woman, rocking back and forth with her feelings. Did you have some visual/cinematic ideas going into the video, or did the director bring those to the table?

That was all the director, Sarah Devlin. This marks my third video collaboration with Sarah, who was immediately drawn to “Wishing Well.” She said the song resonated with her on a personal level and reflected her own struggles with grief, love, loss, and repression. It was her idea to create these imposing shelves of countless memories, all bottled up and distorted by the rounded glass or liquid inside. She knew early on that she wanted the video to be in black and white, which I love because memories lack the hues of the present moment—we remember things differently as time goes on, for better or for worse.

Sarah wanted to portray the compartmentalization of emotions and memories as well as their inevitable release. She used objects from her own past relationships, and seeing those memories bottled up and then shattered was cathartic for her and certainly meaningful for me as well. It was especially meaningful to me to know that I was making this music video with another woman who’d felt those same feelings.

How does this song fit into the scheme of your forthcoming album – is it representative of the album’s overall feel, or would you say the full record has a wider array of emotional states?

No, I think this song is in many ways an outlier on Out Here Now. There’s plenty of dark emotion on the album—a lot of loneliness, especially—but this song wallows in a way that the others don’t. This one explores its beautifully murky soundscape and subject the longest, and I think part of that stems from it being the oldest of the songs on this record, written in a time when I was willing to go there and do that.

While the other songs offer plenty of space for exploring loneliness, growth, vulnerability and transformation, I think they also do a little more processing. They’re also more lively. Some take themselves less seriously, others more seriously. For me, it’s the variety of sounds and moods that makes the record such an honest reflection of all the crazy shit we humans feel.

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Waitsfield, VT.