She’s the multi-instrumentalist who plays an improvised drum that resembles Afro-cuban invention from the enlightenment era, post-slavery. She is also the runaway who teased us with an EP, ‘Things Fall Together’ in 2014, have our attention, only to disappear for four years.
Now, she’s back to doing music - which she tells Pulse in 2018 she started pursuing full-time four years ago - with another 5-track EP, ‘Chapter One.’ She’s also the storyteller whose penmanship conveys the story, presumably as her hearts wants it told.
Like anything Falana has done since 2014, she’s like the infectious, yet nomadic lover that saunters into your life in the thick of Forks, Washington, US winter, caters to your soul with the appropriate dose of love to make you feel content, only to leave again as spring air fills comfortable noses and never return for three years, then repeat it.
During that 2018 interview, she tells Pulse that, “I do a bit of Jazz and Afrobeat, soul, but not necessarily any of that, I just basically describe my music as Falana, which is my name. When you hear my music, you know it's me.” You feel every bit of that in her music.
The production on ‘Repeat' is intriguing and feels like a perfect accompaniment to the final scene of a television show where a woman branches out on her own, leaving all things familiar behind while she hugs the unknown and skips town.
It’s like a blend of jazz with folk, alternative R&B and frankly, a little The Runners Hip-Hop. The guitar chords that come after hook is definitely of the guitar solo era of rock n’ roll.
‘Shine On' is true jazz, supported by bass guitars, minimalist percussion and folk chords towards the end for what seems music perfect pub performance while the even lovers separate from each other not to miss any moment.
The guitar-rich moments of, ‘Give Into You’ will presumably be the moment the lovers gaze into each other’s eyes and maybe hold hands or even dance.
The percussion and instrumentation on, ‘Give Up’ give an afro-Caribbean feel, blended with something juju-esque like a King Sunny Ade would perform. This could be the radio friendly hit on the album - it’s hip, it’s danceable, it’s awe-inducing and it’s capable of garnering fan loyalty – asides the more familiar afrobeats ‘Ride or Die,’ that is.
Production is faultless.
Themes, topics and lyrics
Falana and distrust
When 'Repeat' rolls in with a rumble of an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, piano chords and cloud strings on, Falana tells the story of need and loneliness as symbolism for fear to which she only has one response; her belief in a higher being who comforts her, or at least offers hope.
That belief in a higher being also seems a symbolism for a lack of trust in humanity, while one seeks solace in the power of solitude and expect the best – a need to believe in something 'bigger.' At the root of this one is a collision of distrust and trust which we all battle daily, giving way to a confusion as to our identity.
Like Falana sings that she says her, “...prayer and put it on repeat,” it either means she has no hope for humanity or she simply can’t afford to go down that road as even the sunshine isn’t strong enough to faze her. But like she sings, ‘It’s cool to call her crazy and strange,’ if that helps her get what she is focused on getting. But that, she didn’t mention.
While Falana sang ‘Repeat’ from a first-person perspective, ‘Get Up,’ is a charge to someone, seemingly a lover who is in the same situation she was on, ‘Repeat.’
It is the value of experience now playing a role, taking ‘Chapter One’ to the realms of a picture-esque project, but let down by moments of expletives and repetitive lyrics when you expect progressive lyrics – the only momentary weakness on this EP that robs it of perfection.
‘Get Up,’ is a tale of empathy and care that feels like blending Serena Ryder with Lindsey Abudei.
‘Falana the Hopeful’
There is hope on ‘Shine On,’ after the thought-inducing efforts of, ‘Repeat.’ It seems the events of repeat happened in the night, and ‘Shine On,’ is leaving all the tears, distrust and hopelessness for yesterday.
Lyrically, there is a feeling like ‘Shine On’ could have been lyrically denser, not for quality messaging, but for a repetition of things like, “…Baby shine on…” that almost disrupts the flow and leaves a listener lingering for more. The choir, however, salvages something.
She sings, “Can you hear the birds singing and the sky is still blue. The sun came out fighting after being kicked out by the moon…,” another reference to the sun, which signifies normalcy and hope.
There is then the question of whether ‘Shine On,’ signifies an overly dramatic character who on 'Repeat' got too sunk in her distrust to see the world is good or struggled with an acceptance of worldly imperfection and a will to only see the beauty of the world.
The hope continues with a tale of love on, ‘Give In To You,.’ Completely moving past the lost one with little belief in humanity, and the one who needed encouragement on ‘Shine On,’ this character is finally take control to the piercing seeming-staccato of performative acoustic guitars on different notes.
She even wants to get vulnerable now, and fall in love – she encourages a lover to open up so she can give in to him.
Apparently, there’s probably a weird, potential hindrance to the love. Falana sings, “Stranger things have happened…,” perhaps an indication. This blend straight into the single, ‘Ride or Die,’ which dropped in 2018.
Asides the issue of momentary lyrical gaps on the EP, the conversation seems pretty limited to the same viewpoint. While that can be forgiven as this is only an EP with its brilliance about its topical and thematic cohesion, which means straying outside similar topics might be risky, sometimes, it’s good to try and call it, ‘bonus.’
Tracklist and Cohesion
There is unmatched detail that doesn’t even care to indulge the finicky cynicism of judgmental. The tracklist enables Falana tell a story that starts off with distrust, then moves to hope, then to love, then empathy and finally a declaration of love.
This album simply doesn’t put a foot wrong on production. It effortlessly blends a handful of genres into songs. Each track is a different experience and even the afrobeats, ‘Ride or Die,’ couldn’t disrupt this. The A&R work on this album is brilliant.
Vocals, production, tracklist, topics, themes (love, distrust, hope, empathy and loyalty) and lyrics make-up this short film of a project on which you would barely find any fault.
The only thing we don’t know yet is how well it will age as a measure of Falana’s growth. This scribe is, however, optimistic on its prospects.
The constant reference to the sun and warmth is like the dynamic symbolism of water in Oscar-winning movie, ‘Roma.’ It starts off with a need for warmth and what now seems a cry for help, ran into a tale that appreciates the sun, and ends with ‘Ride or Die,’ that acknowledges the coldness of the world.
Now that the character has found love, the allusion to cold seems like a resolution to the understanding that nobody wants to be lonely. It’s a realization that hits millennials.
With the album title, ‘Chapter One,’ it seems we have only scratched the surface of this story, indicating topical progression and growth – grown issues. This is relatable music at its finest- It is a short-film.
Let’s hope Falana doesn’t play hide and seek anymore.
• 0-2: Flop
• 2.1-4.0: Near fall
• 4.1-6.0: Average
• 6.1-8: Victory
• 8.1-10: Champion
Lyrical delivery: 1.7/2
Topical conversation, themes and topical diversity: 1.8/2
Impact and Influence: 2/2