Album Review: Falcon Jane: Feelin’ Freaky

‘Honest lyricism and luscious harmonies ensure every track is plez-rock centred perfection.’ 

Re-intro to Falcon Jane:
As I am sure you will remember, I first introduced you to Falcon Jane back in March with my review of their
brilliant track ‘Go with the Flow’. Now, following two further single releases – the previously ListentoDiscover playlisted ‘The News’ and ‘Ginger Ale,’ their new album
has arrived. Depicting the range of emotions felt across the past couple of years by lead vocalist Sara May, ‘Feelin’ Freaky’ (released 3rd August 2018) sees each one of
those ‘freaky feelings’ turned into a track of reflective, plez-rock centred perfection. Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with Falcon Jane

Album Review:
Getting us off to the most delicate and beautiful of starts, ‘Feelin Freaky’ headlines with the previously released The News‘. Comprised of gently ringing guitar melodies and sparse percussion, Sara’s touchingly husky vocal is a joy to listen to. Perfectly matching its surroundings, her tone brings restrained intent to the lyrics as they interweave above and among their effortless accompaniment. The influences here are wide, and without doubt they go beyond the ‘plez-rock’ genre Falcon Jane put themselves into. However, through the use of space, jazz like guitar fragments and countless counter melodies, it eases us into the album in a less ‘freaky’ and more beautiful way than we may have imagined.

Moving through track 2, the previously reviewed ‘Go with the Flow’, we are invited to sip on the curious sounding Ginger Ale. With both preceding tracks having a real sense of calm and subtlety, the more mid-tempo, gently powerful approach here is somewhat unexpected. Coming in at a little over two minutes – making it the shortest track on the album – you may think this would lead to a lack of content. However it’s down to the tempo at which the musical content is performed and not the content itself. There is actually an abundance of it and with reflective, escapism-filled humorous lyrics – such as the wonderful uses of ‘pecan ice cream’ and ‘when we lost your dad’s canoe’  – set to a growing, electronically centred accompaniment, a sense of joyously evolving musicality comes to the fore.

Continuing along this route of musical evolution Pure brings an infectious sense of swing. Not heard to this point, it makes for a beautiful addition to the album. Fusing influences from varying rock genre’s, there is a real sense of making music which is true to its origins. Proving this wonderfully, the shuffle-esque rhythmically synchronised accompaniment within the chorus brings a more 60’s pop-rock edge while the smile-inducing descending piano bass line brings a more blues-rock element. The influences within Sara’s vocal however remain very much centred on doing the story telling in the most honest and touching of ways. And for that, we are very grateful.

Reaching the mid way point of the album, and following a set of wonderfully ‘settled’ tracks, the full-on sense of ‘freakiness’ begins to become more prominent. Though not fully emerging here – although there are certainly musical signposts that we are soon to reach that destination – ‘Everybody Else‘ subliminally encourages us to float around. Thankfully, given the swirling synths and initially more prominent vocal – containing lyrics such as ‘I just want to dream like everybody else does’, it isn’t hard for us to succumb. The really enticing elements of the track though come from the sense of development. With Sara’s vocal inflections becoming increasingly hypnotic – leading you to become increasingly connected to the lyrics within – and the accompanying elements taking on the most luscious of forms, it demonstrates exactly why Falcon Jane’s music is so great.

Ensuring that we arrive at the promised ‘freakier’ sound, ‘Had It Allgives us just that. Beginning in a highly familiar, calming way, we are lulled into a false
sense of security and believe the track will be much like those before it. However, while it feels this way initially,
an increasing edge of dark cheekiness in both the instrumental and vocal elements become apparent. Alternating between free flowing and more regimented rhythms, the repeating nature of the accompaniment reflects the intent within the lyrics.
Here the feeling within Sara’s vocal shifts from the gentle, soothing sound of before to one that’s filled with
emphasis and purpose. Depicting those ever present ‘freaky feelings’, extended vowel-centred syllables contrast with more throwaway phrases culminating in an experimental sounding conclusion. You may not expect it to stick with you like the others but trust me, it does.

Bringing a sense of togetherness to the album, Ignored sees us return from our floaty and freaky journey and land in the musical realms of what drew me to Falcon Jane in the first place. Linking back to Track 2 ‘Go with the Flow,’ the sound isn’t identical, but the musical intent is. The guitars are dreamy. There is a real sense of purpose. And the key elements you expect from Falcon Jane are as clear as ever. Hinting at true art-rock influences, the alternation of statement like synchronised, descending accents and interweaving, more hopeful sounding fragments, perfectly match both the message driven lyrics, and Sara’s delivery of them making it a real stand out track.

Demonstrating another strength of their musicality, the relaxed feel of ‘Never Showed It,’ soothes us to the core. Harmonically taking on an almost blues like progression, the sense of experimentation from earlier has gone to leave a sound which feels somewhat restrained. But in this we find comfort. There isn’t anything to shock us, and more importantly no hint that it might. Instead, with it’s combination of sway-inducing momentum and Sara’s gentle – and in the case of the title lyrics incredibly vulnerable – vocal tone, we are guided away from any potential predictability and to a place where we connect more than ever.

Heading toward the end of the album, Pure Pain‘ sees the calm we have just found be interrupted in the most statement-like of ways. Well, it’s still not a shouty statement – never has it been – but in the context of the album, it is certainly a contrast. As a standalone track, it serves as the perfect penultimate Falcon Jane statement of ‘this is what our music is about.’ It’s safe to say that it more than verges on slightly unsettling. At times it’s actually very unsettling. Given the range of ‘freaky feelings’ Sara’s experienced, that’s kind of the point. However, through the way in which the chromatic movement reflects and enhances the controlled strain within her vocal, you want to support, rather than distance yourself from Sara and the story she is telling.

Having encouraged us to connect one final time, the closing track feels somewhat like a bonus track. It isn’t, but you do wonder what else Sara has to say. Don’t let this put you off though. The Dirt is very much a part of the album. In fact, it serves a great purpose in taking us back to where the album began. There is a sense of freedom, a sense of beauty and an even greater sense of musicality. Transitioning through the sub-genres of rock, it’s a track that seamlessly fuses floaty atmospherics with driving rhythms and luscious harmonies, making it the most suitable of showcase conclusions.

Follow Falcon Jane on: Twitter and Facebook
Listen to and watch Falcon Jane on: Spotify and YouTube
Find out more about Falcon Jane at: Behind the Music: Interview with Falcon Jane and Track Review: Falcon Jane: Go with the Flow.

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