American indie duo Big Red Machine has released a new song titled “Phoenix” as the fourth single off of their sophomore album, How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? The single is a collaboration with indie folk band Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell, who was featured on the album’s lead single “Latter Days,” and serves as a follow-up to their biggest single “Renegade” featuring Taylor Swift.
The track opens with Fleet Foxes’ Robin Peckford’s smooth vocals recalling a previous conversation he had with Big Red Machine member Justin Vernon in the city of Phoenix. Peckford, who wrote the verses and the pre-chorus, sings the lead vocal for those parts of the song. Meanwhile, Vernon and Mitchell perform the chorus together. The chorus details the challenges of making one’s own decisions and how other people can influence those decisions, through lyrics like: “I was trying to find my way / I was thinking my mind was made / But you were making my heart change shape.”
“Phoenix” departs from the emotional rapidness featured in previous singles like “Renegade” and “The Ghost of Cincinnati.” The song favors a calmer delivery with a beautiful string opening. As the song progresses, the instrumentation includes the use of horns which adds an upbeat quality to the arrangement.
“‘Phoenix’ was one of the last songs we wrote for this record,” said Big Red Machine member Aaron Dessner about the song’s creation. “I was thinking about The Band and the Grateful Dead…maybe imagining this Big Red Machine album was some version of the Last Waltz. Justin first heard it while driving and immediately the chorus melody came into his head. I shared the sketch with Robin Pecknold, who I’ve been a fan of forever and who I’d been dreaming would join us on this record.”
“Phoenix” is out now. How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? is available on August 27.