Kelly McFarling, an Atlanta born, Bay Area based singer songwriter, is a musician who makes songs for long drives and fault lines. McFarling gives weight to wistfulness, traverses landscapes and mythologies, and renders the small and ordinary in ultra-vivid color. With a sound that moves between folk, rock, and alt-country, McFarling’s vocals are the constant: warm, assured, often breathtakingly strong.
McFarling has spent the last decade in the Bay Area self-releasing three albums. Her songs capture a specific flavor palette forged of Georgia clay and California gold.
On the heels of 2017’s Water Dog — a sparse, intimate record that showcased the songwriter as a solo artist —Deep the Habit reintroduces McFarling as a bandleader and frontwoman, fashioned from equal parts tenderness and swagger. Sparked by the idea of a feminine take on JJ Cale or Dire Straits, McFarling’s contribution to that corner of the canon infuses it with softness and vulnerability. There are hooks with just enough pop-sheen to conjure Stevie Nicks or even Pat Benetar; but we also get threads of more modern alt-country and indie-folk, like Hiss Golden Messenger or Molly Sarlé.
Dynamic in texture and vast in scope, Deep The Habit captures the freewheeling feel of McFarling’s live shows with her band. The record introduces Andrew Brennan as a collaborator and co-writer, deepening the spectrum of instrumental arrangement; an earthy evolution of past folk-centered albums. The band features Tim Marcus on pedal steel, Oscar Westesson on bass, Nick Cobbett on drums, Andrew Brennan on guitar, and Brittany Powers on background vocals.
Its themes, meanwhile, unfold in layers: love and family, truth and memory, connection to the land and what we owe each other — and the lifelong tension between holding fast to one’s roots and clearing space for fresh green growth.