You must have a small one / To act like such a big one repeat Folk Uke, the roots project made up of Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie as they confront toxic masculinity, directed toward the U.S. president and other men they say encourage this alarming mindset on “Small One.”
Backed by pedal steel and flawless instrumentation, Guthrie and Nelson harmoniously weave through their lyrical folk tale and rip off the bandage singing You’re a sad little boy / Whose only joy is taking other children’s toys… its clear “Small One” is directed to “one” person in particular, singing A sad state of affairs / Its plain you don’t care / About anybody anywhere… You preyed on our fears / Laughed at our tears and fueled our hate.
“‘Small One’ started out as a letter to the President,” Nelson and Guthrie tell American Songwriter. “The second verse was for [Rex] Tillerson. There were too many to name, but it generally applies to anyone who would rather see a child in jail than hear a foreign language spoken in their country.”
Produced by My Jerusalem guitarist Jeff Klein, Nelson and Guthrie’s vocals (and Klein’s acoustic guitar part) were recorded before the COVID-19 lockdown, while the remainder of the track was pulled together with the help of the Foo Fighters’ Rami Jaffee on keys, former Band of Horses bassist Bill Reynolds, JT Bates (Bonny Light Horseman/Big Red Machine) on percussion, Matt Pynn (Dwight Yoakam, Miley Cyrus) on pedal steel, and Walker Lukens and McKenzie Griffin on backing vocals, all recording from their respective studios.
Proceeds from the limited edition 7-inch single of “Small One” will go to Grassroots Leadership, a human rights organization working with communities across the country to help abolish for-profit private prisons, jails, and detention centers.
“Listen to the words and you’ll realize it’s about someone who is lacking heart and compassion,” say Folk Uke. “Inches, or the lack thereof, has little to do with it. We have to point out what is dividing us so that we can become united. It’s not black-brown versus white. It’s love versus hate. There are more of us who love.”