Canadian experimental alt-folk group RedFox are set to soothe anxious minds and reinforce personal journeys with the release of their new single, “Mellow Out” and album Stranger Love — available now.
Blending traditional folk motifs with an ambient electronic sound, the Montreal-based band spin traditional instruments like the banjo, violin, and acoustic guitar on their heads, fusing conventional bluegrass rhythms with alternative rock-based guitar and vocals — inventively applying them to modern electronic production in a way that maintains the sound’s soul and skill.
With two previous EP releases — 2018’s self-titled RedFox and 2019’s Recovery — as well as numerous singles and festival appearances to their credit, folk troubadours Jono Townsend and Tim Loten, vocalist and fiddle virtuoso Daphnee Vandal, metal drummer Sam Neumann, and prog-rock bassist Sam Robinson up the ante of their inimitable offerings with Stranger Love in a way they sense many can relate to.
“Inspired by our personal and collective life experiences, our goal with this production was to create a compilation that pushed the boundaries of the genre,” Loten shares. “It’s not always easy to make our various instruments and creative visions cooperate; we demand a lot of compromise from each other musically, and that really shows in these songs.
“It’s a dark album,” he continues. “Daphnee has never been shy about writing real, honest lyrics, and I think people will get a lot of meaning out of it.”
“It’s a song about trying to feel normal and function in everyday life,” Vandal explains of “Mellow Out” and its origins. “But… Our good friend ‘anxiety’ seems to be kicking around every corner.”
Their debut full-length, the 12-track tome takes a sequential sojourn of sorts through themes of mental health and personal growth — arm wrestling with inner struggles through to self-safety, and every personal battle in between. “Stranger Love’s opening track, ‘Play,’ is about the fight with the mind,” Vandal reveals. “From there, it goes into first warnings that something dark is clouding it all in ‘Sleep,’ before seeing the signs in ‘Shiver.’
“As song #4, ’Mellow Out’ is where we say ‘it’s fine,’ and ‘Circles’ becomes this insanity-meets-repetition cycle where we know nothing about any of this is ‘normal’ and we acknowledge an introspective conclusion; that reality is a more pessimistic existence than once imagined.”
Halfway through the release, by track #6 — “Runaway” — Vandal’s lyricism questions concepts of escapism. “Here is where we find strength, and experience a happier side of self-realization. Even though personal disappointments are faced, there’s a potential to shed that which makes for unhappiness, in all different facets of life: physical, emotional, or both.”
With night comes day, and soon “Try” swoops in to lay the darker side of self-realization plainly. “It’s about the acceptance of failure,” Vandal muses. “It’s about how devastating it can be to give everything you have to something that inevitably doesn’t work.
“It’s here where the clouds of one’s own haze and ‘rainbow mood’ part, sort of like a daydream, in ‘Hey Mister,’” she continues. “We start to see that everyone else is struggling too, and start to become free.
“‘Can’t You See’ is a song about the acceptance of realization and the desire to make choices that move forward, and ‘Invisible’ is about experiencing freedom while doused in the memories of greater times; it’s about discovering one’s meaningful meaninglessness.
“Song #11 — ‘Takes One to Know One’ — is where it all makes sense, and we realize we were never alone. The album’s closing track, ‘Sewn,’ is a reflection of the sad, but honest truth: we feel safe here.”
Stranger Love’s album art expresses how duality is the reigning constant through colour, composition, and emotionality; how, much like two sides of a coin, you need both for it to be complete. Created by Montreal-based tattoo artist J.F. Biron, the band’s vision for the visual was to convey the duality of softness and intensity, haze and definition, dark and light, foreboding and providence…
“We are all bound by life’s precarious and extraordinary cycle,” Loten says of the commissioned piece and its relationship to the release. “This is our time and, together, we are the observers of this wonderful chaos.”
“Mellow Out” and Stranger Love are available now.