June 16th 2017 has been a great day for new music. Fleet Foxes, Portugal The Man, Lorde, Jason Isbell, Com Truise, and The Drums are just a few of the artists who have gifted us with new music today. But it’s imperative that you don’t sleep on Bay Area musician Kelly McFarling’s new album Water Dog. It is gorgeous, intimate, delightful and arresting.
Smaller than a drop of rain / Smaller than a seed / Smaller than a word without a sound / Bigger than an open sky breathing on the sea / Big as my heart beating out loud / Both
Water Dog is an album that exists within paradox. It’s about duality; recognizing that we as humans can hold seemingly contradictory thoughts in our heads, and we are not insane for trying to do so. And how these polar opposite concepts or thoughts often complement, even necessitate, one another.
Specific examples include celebrating your accomplishments, but also recognizing that you’ve got a long way to go. Reflecting on the tension inherent in the day-to-day, but also the profound highs of love and the bitter lows of loss. Appreciating both the beauty of the natural world and the delicate nuances of interpersonal relationships.
Oh my darlin’ / Sun will come and set the water free / You will see / Holes for swimming / Not for filling / You are complete
Though Gather and Grow is literally about a mad dash to save her garden, it also serves as a metaphor for trying to fix your mistakes even if they’re unfixable. Pacific is about spending time in the ocean, but also about transcending fear and eschewing the idea that the grass is always greener anywhere else. Country is about yearning for a simple life – you guessed it, in the country.
Stellar production comes from Avi Vinocur of Goodnight, Texas – also an amazing singer/songwriter in his own right. Avi has a talent for transforming small sounds into gigantic ones. It is these subtle and unique textures, weaving in and out of Kelly’s vocals and instruments, that transform this album into something much bigger than a collection of great songs. His solo record “Portraits with No Color” takes a similar approach, putting the voice and acoustic guitar at the forefront, often doubled, which magnifies the unassuming beauty of his songs and deft lyricism.
Rounding out the supporting cast on Water Dog is a who’s who of accomplished Bay Area musicians: Tim Marcus (Milkman Sound) on pedal steel and dobro, Andrew Brennan on guitar (Farrallons), Andrew Laubacher on drums (Con Brio), John Elliott on piano (the Hereafter), Graham Patzner on fiddle (Whiskerman), Oscar Westesson on bass (Quiles and Cloud), and Whiskey Shivers on vocals.
Starting today, the Water Dog tour takes Kelly and crew all across the country, but be sure to catch them at their hometown show on July 13th at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco.