Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of the name Shana Falana, but this certainly won’t be the last. The veteran musician and songwriter has spent the last twenty years performing in a number of bands and has performed solo occasionally. However, tomorrow marks the release of her debut, full-length album, Set Your Lightning Fire Free, a mosaic of sounds and textures that revolve around psychedelic pop, and when brought together create something truly scintillating and dynamic.
In addition, the album – from its title to the album cover to each and every song – feels spiritual in many ways. Most of the songs are inspiring and uplifting, occasionally touch upon a higher order, and are euphoric, especially when Falana turns to epic choral platitudes that are almost like Gregorian chants. The opening single, “Gone”, and “Second Skin”, which showcases the vast range of Falana’s versatile and gorgeous voice, best exemplifies the combination. The lead single, “Heavenstay”, which was featured back on our February 6th Weekend Showcase, and the atmospheric “There’s a Way” are psych-pop gems that are almost hymnal in their nature.
The spirituality, though, isn’t limited to religious connotations; it’s also expressed in the music icons that Falana channels. The anthemic psych-rockers “Go”, “Anything”, and the closer, “That Girl”, resonate with Joan Jett, Shirley Manson of Garbage, and even hints of Nico. The chanting of “woohoo” on the former is simple but seismic and expressed with a no-nonsense attitude. “Anything” and “That Girl” are expressions of self-responsibility – i.e., take charge, make things happen, and don’t dwell on mistakes.
“Know Your Mine” is an ’80s-esque, psychedelic number that embraces the robotic, monotone approach of The Talking Heads and Devo, which could be attributed to Dan Goodwin of Devo fame. It’s a bit repetitive, but it’s a trip. “Dive” is a festering song, one that ebbs and flows across a range of psychedelia. And while the song’s title indicates plummeting to new depths, its meaning is quite the opposite – that the dive is the slingshot to a new destination.
The star of the album, though, is at the very heart of the album, which is “Shine Thru”. It captures the entire essence of the album. With a theme of finding peace with oneself set across the dreamy, goth-rock tones of The Cure, the song is stirring, spine-tingling, and breathtaking. It’s a remarkable, brilliant track and among the year’s best.
In a year that has seen a number of veteran artists come out with stunning and extremely well-received solo albums (Sarah Bethe Nelson, Natalie Prass), 2015 is setting itself up to be a “renaissance” year. And this might be the most appropriate description of Shana Falana‘s debut, solo album – a renaissance of sound and the celebration of an exceptional artist.
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