by Tom Welsh
Falcon Jane, AKA Sara May, talks about new album, Faith, and the journey she’s had to go through to reach this pinnacle
‘Every song that I write is a product of the time that I’m going through,’ says Sara May, better known through the moniker of Falcon Jane. ‘The new album has a lot about questioning things and getting rid of the things that don’t serve me anymore.’
Faith is Ontario-based Falcon Jane’s second full-length album on Darling Recordings, following on from 2018’s Feelin’ Freaky and earlier self-releases that brought her a devoted following and built critical acclaim. The new record is sure to raise her profile deservedly higher, but it seems to somewhat stand alone in May’s canon, owing to a turbulent time of reflections and changes.
‘It feels like that period of time when I was writing the album was very much a breaking down of past belief systems, whether it was religious or personal belief systems – moral values, that sort of thing,’ explains May, ‘and I think there’s a hint in the songs of starting to build that back up in a new way.’
The album was teased with thrillingly-expansive singles The Other Moon and Heaven, and the latter – with its euphoric chorus and words of desires to distil a perfect moment – was one of the first to be written for the album. That this unguarded elation is unparalleled on the songs that followed is telling of the time May found herself in whilst working on the album.
‘Thinking about the album now, it feels like Heaven marks this kind of idyllic place or state of being that’s serving as this holy grail that I’m trying to get back again,’ suggests May. ‘It’s not as dark as some of the other songs that were written a few months later, when shit kinda hit the fan and I was trying to deal with more sad stuff.’
This is evidenced in the stark contrast between Heaven and album opener All of a Sudden – which lays bare the increasingly cathartic writing process that came to define the record. Beneath its playful synth lines and earworm melodies are words of loss and regret at odds with its sound. Elsewhere, the lyrics in songs like Make it Fade and Held High openly address some of the soul searching that May has been tasked with facing in recent times, although the songs themselves come across as having all the hallmarks of hope as much as sadness.
‘Outside of music I have a hard time expressing dark emotions – whether it’s sadness or anger or whatever – I’m not very comfortable with that,’ explains May. ‘It’s very hard for me to cry about something, but then when I do cry – which you could equate with getting it out or releasing that emotion – the feeling that you get afterwards is this kind of euphoric, light-headed drunken feeling. No wonder songs like All of a Sudden ended up being very euphoric-sounding – because maybe that’s how I was feeling once I got all that shit off my chest.’
This journey is laid bare across Faith with its tell-tale lines that sometimes jolt you out of the immersive hooks and inventive production, but it’s certainly one that works towards a positive outlook – even if it is through some heart-wrenching reflection. With every low there’s a line thrown out for hope, which serves to thread the album together.
‘There’s a line in Feelings – “I lost faith in my feelings, I lost faith in the way that I learned to love” – that was very much a thematic symbol of the whole thing,’ explains May. ‘When the album was done and I was trying to figure out what it would be called, the word ‘faith’ was coming up multiple times throughout it. In every song, there’s some sort of belief, and sometimes a lack of confidence in that belief – like the two sides of the coin – but also a bit of hope and actual faith of being like – “I can do this, I can get through this, I just need to figure out how”.’
Working out a way through life’s challenges has always been something that music has helped May with since the solo beginnings of Falcon Jane in 2012, but she believes that it is the whole process and the people involved – both directly and indirectly – that allows her to get the most from it.
‘I can write songs for myself and play them in my bedroom and keep them to myself because they are very personal, but doing that doesn’t give me the same sort of emotional release that I get from sharing it with other people,’ says May. ‘Whether it’s playing it with the band and having people bring their own flair to it, or playing it in front of people and having them react – I think there’s a big energy exchange that happens there that I wouldn’t get just keeping it to myself.’
With Faith marking a new kind of approach, one in which self-described ‘control freak’, May, worked alongside a couple of close collaborators to get the sound she envisaged, future projects are exciting prospects in more ways than one. Given the time she’s come through, learned from and produced an outstanding record of depth and beauty in, whatever May does next will surely benefit from the experience and expanded horizons.
‘Hopefully, the next thing that I do is more the “coming out of it” side,’ says May. ‘I think Faith was very much starting off high and, as the year went on, sort of sinking deeper into darkness – not that it’s a particularly dark album but I think there’s some dark themes in it for sure. I think the stuff that I’m writing now is much more of the “building it back up” and finding more of what I can believe in.’
Falcon Jane’s new album, Faith, is out now on Darling Recordings.
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