Premiere: Kelly McFarling Holds Us to Account in Dazzling Song “Delicate”

Kelly McFarling © Sam Bathrick
Kelly McFarling © Sam Bathrick
Bay Area singer/songwriter Kelly McFarling holds us to account in her dazzling new single “Delicate,” reminding us of the importance of what we say and how we say it.
for fans of Dire Straits, JJ Cale, Blues Traveler, Sarah McLachlan
Stream: “Delicate” – Kelly McFarling




In a time where it feels like lying and denying is being normalized, there is a call of accountability and tenderness: Be careful with your words, mean what you say, and don’t throw them around.

If there is one definitive maxim or universal life lesson we can all take away from the past four years, it is that what we say matters. Words have weight: They are harbingers of truth and deceit, power and influence. Bay Area singer/songwriter Kelly McFarling holds us to account in her dazzling new single “Delicate,” reminding us of the importance of what we say and how we say it.

Delicate - Kelly McFarling
Delicate – Kelly McFarling
Out on the streets of what you told me
there are buildings falling down on both sides
I’m holding steady on my feet
telling you, telling me it’s alright
Sometimes I think that we just say it
We wanna hear what it sounds like out loud
But be careful this is delicate
What we say is gonna follow us around

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Delicate,” the lead single off Kelly McFarling’s forthcoming fourth studio album Deep the Habit, out March 12. Following 2017’s last LP Water Dog, “Delicate” reasserts McFarling as an expressive singer/songwriter in the folk-blues-rock laden vein of such artists like Dire Straits, JJ Cale, and so on. Released at the start of Joe Biden’s presidency and the end of the so-called “Trump era,” “Delicate” feels particularly timely and prescient. Its message of respect – for words, for the truth, for our actions and behaviors – digs at a core principle that seems to have been lost to many at the highest realms of power recent years. Donald Trump knowingly lied to officials and the American public on innumerable occasions, supported the spread of dangerous QAnon conspiracies, and most recently used his words to incite a violent domestic terrorist attack from a mob of his supporters on the US Capitol that resulted in at least six deaths.

Do not say words are harmless; words carry great power. They can topple empires and destroy a democracy, so heed McFarling’s message: “I can’t walk away from this – I mean what I say with this – and I know that it’s delicate.” Her words are full of resolve, carrying a strong and unmissable message:

The word can have so many layers
One for you, one for me, one for us
I pay attention to the teller
How it moves is the truth physical
Sometimes I think that we just say it
We wanna hear what it sounds like out loud
But be careful this is delicate
What we say is gonna follow us around
I can’t walk away from this
I mean what I say with this
And I know that it’s delicate

“‘Delicate’ is about the power and limitations of words,” McFarling tells Atwood Magazine. “How damaging they can be when used recklessly, and it’s a call to keep that in check – for others and for myself. We all want to be known and heard and the biggest tool we have for that is our words and our communication. In a time where it feels like lying and denying is being normalized, there is a call of accountability and tenderness: Be careful with your words, mean what you say, and don’t throw them around.”

The “Delicate” music video, directed by Alana Lowe with cinematography by Paul Heltzer, finds Kelly McFarling basking in a northern California alcove. “I wrote ‘Delicate’ while I was living in the outer sunset of San Francisco and since moved to a tiny coastal town north of the city. I wanted the video to represent both places linking them with the feeling of motion, and the wilderness of the city and the sea. Alana Lowe and Paul Heltzer are incredible film wizards, and also my neighbors, a relationship that has become deeper and more meaningful in Covid times. They made this video feel like an evolution of time and space, during a surreal global moment when we were so limited in where we could go and what we could make. I love the beauty that sprang from those limitations and that chapter.”

You keep saying never always
Every time ever since absolute
But I was there for the grey space
I was living in the bright lights of you
Sometimes I think that you just say it
You wanna hear what it sounds like out loud
But be careful this is delicate
What you say is gonna follow you around
I can’t walk away from this
I mean what I say with this
I know that its delicate
The world is made of words
The families and the herds
To be known is to be heard

Active for over the past decade, Kelly McFarling released her debut album Distractible Child in 2010 and has been steadily putting out new music ever since. Deep the Habit represents an exciting new chapter at the start of the artist’s second decade in music, finding her refreshed and ready to take on the world at large. Get lost in the dynamic waves of “Delicate” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and stay tuned for more from Kelly McFarling very soon.

Deep the Habit is out March 12.

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Stream: “Delicate” – Kelly McFarling



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Deep The Habit - Kelly McFarling

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