Photo by Emily Sevin

“All that I have / oh magnolia / painting light on the window / all that I have / my collection, deep the habit my memory / my collection / deep the habit my memory / all that I have”

“There it is!!!” he blurts out, rising swiftly from his chair and almost knocking it over. “Deep the habit!” he exclaims to an empty room. I don’t know about you, but I get very excited when I discover the moment a song mentions, especially in passing, its album’s title. It makes me feel like a detective or an archaeologist, uncovering some hidden secret truth. Am I alone in this? Bueller?

Well, anyway, that’s what happens in Kelly McFarling‘s “North Decatur,” of her latest album Deep The Habit, out now. I have no idea what deep the habit means, but I sure like it.

McFarling’s last album Water Dog, was a beautiful yet quiet storm. In contrast, Deep The Habit is a fleshed-out, full-band affair. Its first single, the excellent “Delicate,” offered us textured, dueling guitars and driving drums. Deep The Habit is filled with many moments of ear candy, thanks to its deft and thoughtful arrangements and supporting cast of truly excellent musicians.


Other sonic highlights include Patrick Cress’ subtle saxophone playing that appears in the very middle of “Last of My Kind,” adding a surprising groove to its meditative soundscape. And Andrew Brennan’s auto-wahed guitar solo on “Century” is an absolute joy.

But of course on any great record, musicianship is only half the battle. The war is won with great songs, and that’s where Deep The Habit really shines. The lyrics are filled with mystery and curiosities — streams of consciousness, questions, granular musings on life that serve as proxies for much grander topics. The vocal melodies are strong, catchy, and lush. What more can you ask for? Deep The Habit, out now, was definitely one of TBB’s most anticipated album releases this year and it surely delivers. The only thing missing is that full band version of Water Dog’s “Records,” a mainstay at McFarling’s live shows — and one we hope to hear a studio recording of very soon.

Speaking of which, you’ve got two chances to see Kelly McFarling perform live in the next few months — with Alex Bleeker at Rickshaw Stop on August 27th and with King Dream at Sweetwater Music Hall on October 14th.

Kelly McFarling and Alex Bleeker

Rickshaw Stop

August 27, 2021

8pm, $12-15