Over the past few years, I’ve written and photographed the California-born, Upstate New York-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Shana Falana. And as you may recall, Falana can trace the origins of her music career to her involvement in San Francisco‘s D.I.Y. scene in the 90s, where she also had a stint in a local Bulgarian women’s choir. In the early 00s, she had relocated to New York. And as the story goes, by 2006 Falana had been struggling through drug addiction and financial woes, when she lost part of an index finger in a work-related accident.
Under most normal circumstances, the accident would be considered extremely unlucky and tragic; however, Falana received settlement money, which provided a much-needed period of financial stability — and it also allowed her to get sober and find a new focus in her life and music. Her sophomore album, last year’s Here Comes the Wave was conceptualized and written during two disparate parts of her life — while she was struggling with drug addiction and desperately trying to get sober ad the subsequent years of sobriety. Understandably, much of that album’s material was rewritten and revised with the growing sense of perspective and awareness that comes as you’ve gotten older and a bit a wiser. Thematically, that album touched upon transformation as as a result of emotional and spiritual turmoil; the necessary inner strength, resolve and perseverance to overcome difficulties; the eventual acceptance of aging, time passing and of one’s own impending mortality.
Slated for an October 25, 2019 release through Arrowhawk Records, Falana’s third album Darkest Light has been playfully described by its creator as “druggy music by sober people” but at its core, the album is naturally full of mystery, contract and paradox. The Kingston, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has worked deep in her own niche in the psych rock, shoegaze and ethereal punk worlds and on the forthcoming album reportedly finds her converting weird, magical and occasionally nasty energy into authentic messages of personal empowerment, rebirth and redemption. “I’ve been around a while,” Falana says. “I was an addict. I worked on the fringe of the sex industry in New York City for two years. I know that even in the darkest lives, everyone still has their light. People still shine. Darkest Light is an album of mantras.”
The album finds Falana continuing her ongoing collaboration with drummer Mike Amari and producer D. James Goodwin, who has worked with the likes of Kevin Morby, Wand, Heather Woods Broderick and others. Reportedly, the trio build manage to construct a sound that at points is stormy, heavy and harrowing and at other points delicate without overwhelming Falana’s delicate and vocals. Interestingly, the album’s first single is the sparse and hauntingly gorgeous “Come and Find Me.” Centered around Falana’s delicate vocals and strummed guitar, the song expresses a plaintive and aching longing, making it arguably one of the most heartbreaking songs of her growing catalog.
“This is the only song on the record that is not ‘new,'” Falana says of the new single. “I wrote it while still living in BK over a decade ago, and at the time (not yet sober) I thought I was waiting for my love, my prince, my savior to come to me. But since then I’ve realized it was a plea to myself. It took me years to get to a place where I felt I could put this song out, and perform it regularly. It’s from the deepest, quietest part of my heart. When we decided to put this on the record I knew it needed to be the first single . . . so it could stand on its own for a while.” The song does what we all do at some point, as we get older — look back at our past selves with a mix of shame, pity and empathy for all the things we somehow didn’t know, all the things we lost, but with the innate understanding that we wouldn’t be who we are now without those younger and more foolish selves.
Directed and shot by D. James Goodwin, the recently released video is a an appropriately stark and intimate visual featuring Falana, neck deep in water, with a small bit of light on her face, reflected back into the water. It’s a dazzlingly gorgeous visual for a gorgeous and heartfelt song.