On the heels of 2017’s Water Dog — a sparse, intimate record that showcased the songwriter as a solo artist —Deep the Habit (March 12, 2021) 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.