“Darkness, Power, Light”: Ontario’s Falcon Jane Goes Track-by-Track Through Her ‘Faith’

Faith - Falcon Jane
Faith - Falcon Jane
‘Faith’ is more than a title for Falcon Jane: The Toronto singer/songwriter left a piece of her soul behind in her fourth studio album, a record of inner reckoning and rootsy dream pop upheaval.
Stream: “Heaven” – Falcon Jane




Faith is more than a title for Falcon Jane: The Toronto singer/songwriter left a piece of her soul behind in her fourth studio album, a record of inner reckoning and rootsy dream pop upheaval. Ethereal and grounded all at once, Faith blends lush, enveloping sonics with intimate reflections to create Falcon Jane’s most exciting collection yet.

Faith - Falcon Jane
Faith – Falcon Jane
Heaven is a place I’ve been
Spending my time in, living my life in
You are always there with me to
Watch the sun set and rise again
I don’t even need to dream,
All of my feelings so surreal
Nothing’s ever gonna wake me up and out of this

Released November 13, 2020 via Darling Recordings, Faith is Falcon Jane’s fourth studio album. The moniker and musical project for Ontario-based singer/songwriter Sara May, Falcon Jane has been striking a fine balance of indie rock and dreamy shoegaze elements in her music for nearly a decade. 2012’s debut album Take Off was followed by Alive n Well in 2015 and Feelin’ Freaky in 2018, the latter of which premiered on Atwood Magazine. “Falcon Jane create a casual atmosphere where strong emotions can swim in sweetly crafted melodies,” writer Mariel Fechik wrote at the time.

Falcon Jane has seemed to ebb and flow between a band and solo project over time, with Sara May assuming more and more of the artistic identity in recent years. Indeed for May,Faith feels like her most decisive, personal, and complete work yet.

“This album feels very personal to me, very intimate,” she tells Atwood Magazine. “Almost the entire thing was written and recorded in one or two rooms of my house. So creating this album allowed me to go very deep within myself to find what was there. Musically, this album is much more piano and synth based than any of my previous work. I’ve been writing songs 50/50 on piano and guitar lately, and I think that comes across. I also experimented with giving songs energy through percussive elements, and working with Evan Gordon (who mixed the album and did some additional performances on it) was a great way to learn about that stuff and push the boundaries of what I was comfortable creating. Also, I feel like the vocals are taking up a nice space on the album. I am not a trained singer, so I am constantly working on trying to make my voice stronger, more powerful, and I think there are some really powerful vocal moments in these songs!”

All those messages and words I told myself
Coming backwards and forwards to me now
As if I really need to hear them out
I tried to say ‘em but I
Ended up shouting, ended up falling for it
Did before, but I thought it would be different
And I don’t know just how to get through it
And I do
Tried to call up some kind of worthy cause
But the wise woman in me has had her flaws
Rosie vision, yet I know who I was
So I take my
Pause and look away, try to save some face
Why am I so blue, why do I feel so grey
Know the difference, yet I give in anyway
And I do
– “Messages,” Falcon Jane
Falcon Jane © Brendan George Ko
Falcon Jane © Brendan George Ko

“There is so much more power in this album than my past albums,” May adds in reflection. “It’s clear that I have more confidence in my voice and in my vision. I also approached the recording process differently. Feelin’ Freaky was recorded over five days, but Faith took me eight months to record. I took my time with it, let each song have its moment. The album kinda snowballed into what it is now. I started with three songs, and just kept writing and recording as the months went along. I wasn’t even planning to make a full album when I started, but I just let myself surrender to it, and it very much feels like there was some kind of external (or maybe deeply internal?) force guiding it along.”

Singles like “Heaven,” “Messages,” and “All of a Sudden” capture the homegrown authenticity and intimacy brought to bear in Faith: Catchy melodies and heart-on-sleeve lyrics spill forth as May brings listeners into her inner sanctum, forgoing pretense in favor in vulnerable, vivid introspection:

Black is the colour that we’ve all got on
Black like the hour of the night when we were called
When you were taken, or released from it all
Don’t know whether to grieve, or believe in it
To be relieved, God, I just stay away from it
– “All of a Sudden,” Falcon Jane

“These lyrics have always stood out to me, and I think they are very thematic of the entire album,” May says of “All of a Sudden.” “They are written about the death and funeral of a family member; an experience I went through five separate times while making this album. These lyrics very clearly describe the uncertainty in faith that I was going through. I was constantly questioning what I believed about death and the afterlife; is it a transformation? Is there a Heaven? Is it the end? What do I believe in? And the line “I just stay away from it” signifies that I often just avoid these larger questions in order to protect myself. If you listen to the album you’ll hear multiple times that I am trying to figure out what to believe in; breaking down the belief systems I used to have in order to build new ones. For example:

I lost faith in my feelings
I lost faith in the way that I learned to love
All my layers are coming undone
Shred the paper, pull the plug
– “Feelings,” Falcon Jane
All my life has lead up to this moment
And only God knows where I’m going
I learn trust, still, I learn to have faith in
All the things I’ve been thinking and feeling
– “Make It Fade,” Falcon Jane
Falcon Jane © Brendan George Ko
Falcon Jane © Brendan George Ko

There is no doubt that Faith is and remains a cathartic exercise. Hypnotic album closer “Beautiful Dream” reaffirms this with a definitive affecting finale:

Just another beautiful dream
Born out of my deepest feelings
And all the visions of what I couldn’t say
Leave me feeling lost when I finally wake
Quietly grieving all that never was
All the parts of me that you would have become
And oh I beg you, I plead for your love
In all the ways I could think of,
Anything I could come up with

May describes the song as “trying to find and feel love, and all the different manifestations of that,” calling it an apt summation of the album as a whole.

From a listener’s perspective, Faith leaves us with a deep-seated spark of connection: It’s a record that reminds us, again and again, that we are not alone.

“I hope it makes people feel less alone – not that the songs are necessarily based on a we’re all in this together vibe – but I hope witnessing and listening to all of my dark moments on this album lets people recognize their own darkness and emotions, so they can process them,” May explains. “None of the songs sound particularly sad, but a lot of them were written through fits of sadness, anger, and hopelessness. So I hope people can hear how human I am, and hopefully feel how human they are. Dark moments are part of being alive, but there’s always a way through it, and this album is proof of that.”

Falcon Jane © Brendan George Ko
Falcon Jane © Brendan George Ko

Dark moments are part of being alive, but there’s always a way through it, and this album is proof of that.

Falcon Jane found her Faith, and the resulting lies in her layered and moving new musical journey. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Falcon Jane’s Faith with Atwood Magazine as Sara May goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her fourth album!

Falcon Jane’s Faith is out now.

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:: stream/purchase Faith here ::
Stream: ‘Faith’ – Falcon Jane



:: Inside Faith ::

Faith - Falcon Jane

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All of a Sudden

I typically don’t remember writing my songs. I just ~ all of a sudden ~ have them in front of me. So when I perform the songs live, or record them, I am trying to do justice to whatever power or source sent them to me. This is one of those songs.
I know this song is about my uncle and his funeral. It’s about family and ceremony and love. It’s about having a close connection with someone who also feels distant. It’s my big frustrated outcry of not knowing what to believe in anymore, wondering where our loved ones go when they die. Whether they go to a room prepared for them in the sky, or somewhere else.
What started out as a sad song full of loss, grief, and heartbreak has now emerged as one of the most upbeat and positive songs on the album. It has this powerful duality in it that mirrors the way I felt about my uncle’s death. Deep sadness, and deep relief that his illness and suffering are over, that he’s joining the angels up in heaven. The synth riff that Andrew spontaneously wrote and performed during the recording process is so happy and peaceful. It reminds me of bliss, of heaven. I’m not sure if there is an afterlife, but I like to imagine that my uncle’s presence is very much alive in this song, guiding the song to be the powerful pop ballad that it is. To me, this song feels like a first breath, not a last one.

Heaven

Almost all of my songs examine the light as well as the dark, and Heaven is a perfect example of that. It was written after I spent some time at Neyaashiinigmiing 27 / Cape Croker. I have always been heavily influenced by nature, and I came home from that trip with beautiful imagery stuck in my mind. The pink sunset that perfectly reflected itself in the calm waters of Georgian Bay, the thick green forests, the gigantic rock formations shooting into the sky. It is in these places where I feel most like myself, most at peace, most in love. Heaven is a love song for my partner, Andrew, who was with me on that trip, walking with me out into the pink lake, but it is also a love song for the natural world.
As humans, we have such a flawed connection with nature. We love and worship it, but our lifestyles so casually disrespect and destroy it. I think that’s where the dark and semi-spooky chorus in the song came from. I wanted the chorus to feel as if a choir of angels was singing it. But to me, those voices sound very grounded, so I think they are angels on earth, maybe even underground, rather than in heaven.

This song is a study of the afterlife that I have been hearing about throughout my life. A blissful place where there is no pain, no suffering, no possessions, just love and light and peace. As I continue to question my faith, I find that I believe much more in a heaven that exists here on Earth. “Only up to our knees/ yet I believe in what we’re seeing”. I have felt peace, light, and love when I am alive and out in nature with no one else around. “Heaven is a place I’ve been wandering around in”. Everything I could have wished for in the afterlife already exists here on Earth.

Feelings

Feelings is a love song written about finding a love that you thought was lost. A rekindling, reawakening. It’s about letting go of the past in order to pursue a new future. Establishing a new belief system and a new way to express love.
The song features a badass, heartbreaking guitar solo by Branson Giles.

The Other Moon

The Other Moon is a letter and tribute to my late Nonna whose death inspired me to start recording this album. Despite being from two completely different generations, and speaking two different languages, my Nonna and I had a very special connection. We understood each other and cared about each other, even if we couldn’t find the words to express it.
This song flowed out of me immediately after one of our final phone calls. My Nonna would always cheekily joke about her own death, and through her broken English, she claimed that when she died she’d be going to “The Other Moon”.
This song is not a story about a happy-go-lucky relationship between grandmother and granddaughter. It accurately depicts the contrasting dynamic of a very loving friendship mixed with a lifelong trauma-ridden miscommunication. The big hole in my heart, the black cloud over our love. This song feels like the message I always wanted to send to her; pushing through the darkness to find the deep love we shared and continue to share now.

Messages

Messages is a song that feels very personal to me. It’s a message from one part of myself to the other. The wise woman in me trying to give some direction, while the other part of me is doubting how wise that woman actually is. I always meant for this song to be saved for myself as a refuge for when I needed an emotional release. Something I could play that was just for me. But something drew me to record it and add it to the album, so, here it is!

Make It Fade

I friggin love this song. I actually wrote it in the same sitting as Messages. Like Messages, it’s very much a song from me to me.
Make It Fade questions who I am as a person and where my morals and beliefs lie. Am I a good person? Do I deserve to be loved? How do I move past the bad feelings and thoughts that are within me? Do we change as we get older, or stay the same person we’ve always been?
Ultimately this song is about believing I have the power to heal and get through it. “I learn to have faith in all the things I’ve been thinking and feeling / all the ways I’ve been learning to deal with / I believe I can heal it”
I absolutely love the 80s vibe synth and guitar tone in this song! Also there are some nice horns played by Wally Jericho in the chorus.

Had Enough

Had Enough was written by Andrew McArthur and I on the couch of our Airbnb in Montreal. We had just gotten news about receiving a grant and getting accepted in our first big music festival – it was a pretty exciting day. We were pretty pumped about music at that point, so we just started jamming on two acoustic guitars and this song was born. I still have the voice memo somewhere.
This is a super fun song to play live, and I have great memories of doing so on various stages across Canada.

Take Your Turn

This song feels very angry to me. It’s about trying to stand my ground while knowing I’ve gotta let my opponent take their turn, or shoot their shot. I think I had a lot of things on my mind when I wrote this song. The vocal performance feels very powerful – I remember being quite pissed off when I sang it.
This song also features my first and only guitar solo! Hopefully more are to come.

Held High

Held High was recorded at a friend’s studio / jam space on their 8 track tape machine. At the time they were building a portfolio so they asked us to come in and record a song. We figured it would just be a nice exercise, and that the song might never see the light of day, but when they sent us the track after a day of recording there was such a great power and energy to it that we had to add it to the album. The demo of this song was a lot slower, sparser and more electronic. Andrew and Branson had only heard the demo once or twice before we went into the studio – so everything you hear in the song was written as we were recording. I think the song captures that creative energy and immediacy.
The song is about owning your power and chasing your dreams, and I think we felt very powerful and dreamy as we made it.

Beautiful Dream

Beautiful Dream is an ethereal exploration of love and loss. It always felt like an album opener or closer to me. The line “I beg you, I plead for your love/ in all the ways I could think of/ anything I could come up with” feels like a summation of what all of the songs on the album are about. Trying to find and feel love, and all the different manifestations of that.
That strange high pitched noise you’re hearing is an “electric guitar” sound on my Yamaha SY55 synth, being pitch bended into infinity!
I’m also proud of my vocal harmony work on this song. I’m not the best at finding and singing vocal harmonies, so this feels like quite an accomplishment!

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:: stream/purchase Faith here ::

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Faith - Falcon Jane

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📸 © Brendan George Ko

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