C&I has the first look at the making of the rising star’s new single, “Smoke.”
She may have collaborated with powerhouse vocalist Ashley McBryde on the song, but you’ll quickly discover that Faren Rachels stands on her own as a country singer and is poised for big things.
Always relatable and real, she can be both rowdy and reflective. And she never fails to deliver the vocal goods. With a voice that’s been described as “If Trisha Yearwood and Miranda Lambert had a baby,” she’s opened for the likes of Luke Combs, Willie Nelson, Chase Rice, Montgomery Gentry, and Jimmie Allen.
We talked with Rachels about recording “Smoke” and got the down-home Georgia girl to put together a Gettin’ in a Good Mood playlist.
Cowboys & Indians: For people who might not know you yet, what’s the quick thumbnail?
Faren Rachels: I’m a small-town girl who’s been in love with country music for as long as I can remember. My music is honest and unfiltered, because that’s the kind of music that I want to hear myself.
C&I: Where's home for you, and how’s everyone at home doing?
Rachels: Home for me will always be Sparta, Georgia — a tiny town in the middle of the state. When I say tiny, I mean two stoplights and graduated-high-school-with-12-people kind of tiny! Life moves a little slower there, but it’s full of some of the best people and a sense of community I’ve realized isn’t found just anywhere.
C&I: We’re pleased to premiere the behind-the-scenes video for your latest single, “Smoke.” Tell us more about recording it.
Rachels: “Smoke” was written by some crazy talented friends of mine, Nicolette Hayford, Jake Mitchell, and Hailey Whitters. I usually write the music I record, but when Nicolette sent me the demo of this song I knew I had to cut it. I’ve spent a lot of time pretending to be someone I’m not for the sake of not disappointing folks. It took me way too long to figure out the beauty in vulnerability, and I think this song captures that struggle perfectly.
Another reason this song is so special to me is because a couple of my best friends, Rocky Block and Jeff Garrison, produced it. Rocky was my band leader and toured with me, so he’s been a huge part of my musical journey. Grady Block and Weston Stewart, who have also played countless shows with me, played drums and guitar on the track. Everything came full circle being able to have the guys in my band play in the studio on this one. And to have Ashley McBryde singing with me on it was just the cherry on top. We’ve been friends for years and she has one of my favorite voices of all time. Also Emma Golden was my videographer on the road and has become one of my favorite people; I am so thankful she wanted to be in the studio with us to capture it all.
C&I: How and where have you been spending lockdown?
Rachels: I’ve spent most of the lockdown in Nashville because that’s where I live now. I have two roommates and am thankful we still like each other after so much time together at home, ha-ha. I did get to go visit my mom and grandmother in Georgia over this last week, which gave me a much-needed change of scenery.
C&I: What has this period meant for you as a musician who is used to being out there playing live?
Rachels: I had several shows canceled and rescheduled during the pandemic, which has definitely been the hardest part of it all for me. I love being on the road and meeting new folks out there. It definitely put a lot into perspective and made me realize how much I took for granted.
C&I: How did you stay in touch and keep the music coming while everyone was in lockdown?
Rachels: I wrote a lot of songs via FaceTime and Zoom during the pandemic. It was challenging, but it taught me how lucky myself and my co-writers are to make music together. There’s no better feeling than creating something out of nothing. Other than playing shows, that’s the thing I’m most looking forward to — getting back in the writing room with my co-writers and feeling the energy in the room when you know you’re making something special.
C&I: After you released your self-titled EP you toured with a bunch of big names. What are some things you picked up from those experiences?
Rachels: I’ve been really lucky to share the stage with some of my musical heroes. The Luke Combs Don’t Tempt Me With a Good Time tour was the first big tour I got to be a part of and I could talk all day about what those shows taught me. I watched him, his band, and his crew create a “treat others how you want to be treated” culture that will forever stick with me.
C&I: What should we definitely eat/do/see in Nashville?
Rachels: When in Nashville, you have to get a “bushwhacker” from Losers bar or Broadway Brewhouse. It’s like an alcoholic frosty from Wendy’s. If you like barbecue, you must eat at Martins. Go see a show at the Ryman, and of course spend a day live-music-hopping on Broadway!
C&I: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Rachels: You might be surprised to learn I’ve been bitten by a snake and held at gunpoint.
C&I: What’s next for you?
Rachels: I’m looking forward to releasing more music this year and getting back on the road!!!
Faren Rachels’ Gettin’ in a Good Mood Playlist
“Talking to God” by Chrissy Metz
“Never Will” by Ashley McBryde
“Sucker for a Good Time” by Brent Cobb
“Life After Your Leaving” by Ray Fulcher
“Tank of Gas and a Radio Song” by Travis Denning
“Here and Now” by Kenny Chesney
“LA” by Lainey Wilson
“Greener Pastures” by Brothers Osborne
“Cold Beer Calling My Name” by Jameson Rodgers and Luke Combs
“Tequila Does” by Miranda Lambert
Header image courtesy Remedy Creative