What happens when a bird first leaves its nest? Does the bird fly away immediately, with no problem at all? Or does it waver in flight? Do others creep out slowly but surely, making a concerted effort to plot out their respective path before disappearing into the sky?
Seeing as Lockeland is a music website and not an ornithology forum, its tough to give an outright answer. That being said, the “bird leaving its nest” is a rather fitting allegory when it comes to the story of Nashville’s own songbird, Nightingail (pun absolutely intended, sorry).
Nightingail is the pseudonym for Alicia “Gail” Threlkeld, a Nashville native by way of Memphis. Threlkeld spent the better part of her early Nashville years performing in the winsome folk duo Aliza Carter Band with her brother, Zachary. As time went on, Aliza Carter Band began to slide to the back of both Alicia and Zachary’s creative focuses, duo partially to the somewhat democratic nature of writing and creating in a duo.
“Aliza Carter Band’s stuff is really between Zach and me – we come from very different influences musically, and we have very different life stories. Its a really great thing, so pulling from both of those places for Aliza Carter Band, it was really cool. But as an individual songwriter, it wasn’t always completely fulfilling.”
In a way – that seems to be ever present within the world of music – Alicia’s diplomacy in Aliza Carter Band began to catch up with her own individual musings and creative machinations, which is totally understandable.
Its easier said than done to sit back and allow for another person to take the reigns on what can be a cathartic outlet or coping mechanism. In turn, things began to stall with Alicia’s contributions to Aliza Carter Band, not out of resentment or anything unseemly, but more so out of constraint.
“I felt like I needed an outlet for the rest of myself. And it was almost getting to the point where it felt like I didn’t even know how to write for Aliza Carter Band because I didn’t have anywhere else to put these other things. I needed an outlet.”
So in due time, Alicia decided that she had to seek out other means to egress her more intimate convictions. Rather than compartmentalize innermost feelings, she sought out the outlet that would eventually come to be known as Nightingail.
Luckily for Alicia, she and her brother both agreed that tabling efforts with Aliza Carter Band were somewhat overdue, and so Nightingail finally began to materialize.
“I wasn’t even sure what it was going to be called, because we were only just working those songs out. I thought I was going to go by “Gail” which multiple people told me was a bad idea, so I came up with the Nightingail thing.”
So Alicia sought out production assistance from Sam Gidley (of The Lonely Biscuits) and the two began to hammer out the songs that weren’t quite fit for Aliza Carter Band, and would eventually become Nightingail’s debut EP.
“I was a very low key production, which was awesome and I loved it that way. I think trying to channel that for a full length would be really cool, just with a full band sound.”
In short, it went on to spark an uber positive outlook for Nightingail’s future. Still there was plenty for Alicia to feel out.
“So I guess [Nightingail] started with that EP, and at the time, I didn’t know if it was just going to be a “Alright now, here this is, now back to Aliza Carter Band type thing” or if it was going to be something I felt could actually be done live. Obviously, I’m happy it turned into something I’m still able to do and enjoy doing, but yeah, so that’s when it started.”
And slowly but surely, Nightingail became more and more realized in terms of just how much creative freedom Alicia had as the sole proprietor of the project. Her outlook began to change, and what were personal instances that were once held entirely too close to the chest now had a place to move and breathe. Even still, that’s relatively uncharted territory for Alicia, but she’s beginning to get the hang of things, slowly but surely.
“It just kind of felt like I finally had stories and ideas that I wanted to get out there. There were ideas that I thought people might want to latch onto, want to relate to…. Its certainly very exposed, and I think its something that yeah sometimes it is uncomfortable, and there are still some songs where sometimes I do get a weird feeling. Its like you play these songs out a bunch of times, where you think about the arrangement or what someone’s playing over there, but when it gets comfortable, then you figure out what its really about again.”
Its been two years since Nightingail came into existence, but things have really begun to set into motion. A second EP is in the works, in association with Steve Dawson’s The Hen House recording studio, set to release in June.
One song off the aforementioned upcoming EP, “To Make It Right,” was filmed live at Magnetic Sound Studio in East Nashville, with visuals being provided by Slowhand Films. The video features Nightingail’s newly assembled band – Daniel Pratt on drums, Charlie Abbott on guitar, and Joseph Parks on bass. So things are coming along for Nightingail, and this certainly won’t be the last time we hear from her (rightfully so), but now is about as good a time as any to get onboard before she sets off in full.