Music News

Foxfeather's New Single Imparts Message of Empowerment

Foxfeather releases a new single on Friday, January 28.
Foxfeather releases a new single on Friday, January 28. Courtney Nicholson-Paine
It was early in the pandemic when Carly Ricks Smith, lead vocalist of Longmont Americana outfit Foxfeather, couldn’t sleep and was in the throes of existential panic. Everything in the world felt uncertain and scary. Lyrics poured out of her, resulting in the band's latest single, "Too Damn Small."

“I think I went to Laura (Stratton, guitars and keys) the next day and was like ‘Hey, I wrote a song in the middle of the night last night,’” Ricks Smith recalls. “Not all songs happen that way. Usually, you have to work a lot harder.”

Recording the new single from Foxfeather's upcoming full-length album, The Nature of Things, marked the first time the band had worked with a record label, and the pressure was on. Musically, “Too Damn Small” came together well, and it’s a fun track for the band to play, Ricks Smith says.

“This one really stood out,” she says. “It felt empowering. It encapsulated a lot of what we were going for as musicians in the moment. It’s like a time stamp of where we were. This one really brought it all together and focused on the pandemic and what we were going through.”

The single, an upbeat track that veers into cowpunk territory, delivers a message of empowerment: “This world is too damn small for a woman like me to tumble and fall.” All Foxfeather songs are born on acoustic guitar, but they mutate when the full band — currently made up of bassist Mark Dabrowski, drummer Jay Elliott and lead guitarist Blake Smith — takes a shot at them.

In this case, "Too Damn Small" evolved from a bass line that Dabrowski thought up, while Denver composer Eric Moon provided a spaced-out synthesizer solo reminiscent of Sturgill Simpson’s 2019 outlaw country/disco/funktronica album, Sound & Fury. Ricks Smith says the band tries to keep its mind open to experimenting with different sounds, but the single breaks into new sonic territory that took everyone by surprise.

“We were lucky,” Ricks Smith says. “It’s a direction I probably wouldn’t have come up with myself, and I’m so happy to work with people who can come up with that idea.”

The track originated from a place of uncertainty that most people were probably feeling in 2020, when the COVID pandemic was beginning to shut down the world. Foxfeather canceled shows and then a tour, and it all felt a little alarming.

“We were a little lost,” Ricks Smith says. “That song, to me, felt like a commitment to remember that we have something worth sharing.”

“This is probably one of the most different things we’ve put out in a while,” Stratton adds. “Our first EP was very bright and bluegrass. Our self-titled got darker. We changed the instruments a lot and continued to evolve, which is fun and important for us.”

Ricks Smith and Stratton consider themselves advocates to women in art and business, and “Too Damn Small” carries that message forward in the lyrics. The band's been fortunate to find some success, but it’s not been without struggles, Ricks Smith says. It’s important to help others who come after them.

“We want to promote self expression and empowerment and the ability to do it ourselves,” she concludes.

“Too Damn Small” will be available to stream on all major platforms on Friday, January 28. For more information, visit foxfeathermusic.com.
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