Next month, Falcon Jane—Sara May’s self-described “plez rock” project—will release a new album called Faith. Today, the Canadian singer-songwriter shares the album’s third single, “Held High,” a simmering indie folk number that pairs May’s mirage-like vocals with fuzzy guitar and languid drums.
“‘Held High’ is about wanting something that feels just out of reach,” May says in a statement. “It’s a struggle between holding out hope and giving up. When I wrote the song I was reaching a breaking point; I had been chasing something for so long and was so exhausted and hopeless that I felt like I couldn’t go on anymore. But it is very much a back and forth, a trial and error.”
May attributes that slogging quality to the song’s chord progression: “I think the repetitiveness of the E major chord to F# minor chord really emphasizes that feeling of triumph then failure then triumph again,” she explains.
“Held High” didn’t always have such a triumphant arc. “The song originally started as quite a sad little ballad,” says May. “Then our friends in the band Gloin gave us an opportunity to record a song at their up-and-coming mini studio in Toronto, as a way for them to expand their portfolio. I had just written ‘Held High’ so I was very excited about it. The band had never heard it before, so we listened to a quick-and-dirty demo I’d made while we drove down to the city. Something about the vibes in the studio and the pressure to get the song recorded quickly made the song what it is today.”
“It feels full of life and power,” says May of the final product. “It inspires me to keep going.”
“Held High” follows the gauzy, blissed-out “Heaven” and the dreamy, despairing “The Other Moon.” “What if I’m not ready to love / What if I’m not ready to move on / What if I don’t know how to give it up,” May croaks in the former track. “All this time I’ve been living like I’m lost.”
All three songs will appear on Faith, which comes after Falcon Jane’s 2018 Darling Recordings debut, Feelin’ Freaky. The album also comes on the heels of Falcon Jane’s recent We Get By EP, a joint release with May’s partner and musical collaborator Andrew McArthur.
“This album is just as much about trying to figure out what kind of person I am as it is about death,” May says of Faith, which was written after a series of deaths in her family. “Where do my beliefs lie? Am I a good person? There needed to be a big collapse in order to grow. A total exhale so that I could breathe in new life, new faith.”
Check out a glimpse of that growth below.