You can't help but swoon over Jenna Faline Ave-Lallemant's seductive approach to music. Using the moniker FALINE — a name from Bambi given to her at birth by her older brother — Ave-Lallemant's recently released self-titled collection is full of sultry vocals, salty lyrics, and forthright emotions, a work she'll celebrate at this week's Tattooed Moose show.
From his home-based Ramshackle Studios, musician and producer Andy Dixon recorded, produced, co-wrote, and played on the album. Jack Burg from Punks&Snakes adds drums and percussion to the record, while Lily Slay (Royal Tinfoil), Hunter Park (She Returns From War), and Conor Donohue contribute backup vocals on the track, "Valet." Ave-Lallemant credits Dixon for taking the record to its fullest potential. "I'm not really good at bar chords or playing really fast rock music," she admits. "And that's why this album has been so inspiring for me to hear my own songs that I'm so used to hearing sort of stripped down, really simple, just me and my guitar, all of sudden be completely fleshed out and thoroughly heightened."
In fact, Ave-Lallemant's constantly influenced by other artists she's surrounded by in the local music community. "There's like two ways of being inspired. There's one where you try to take from it musically and sort of imitate or emulate that person," she says. "And then, there's another sort of inspiration. It's just amazing to admire somebody's talent and the way their life was completely built around that, you know?"
As for FALINE's hopeful-folk-meets-dark-rock sound, vocal comparisons to Björk and Cat Power are right on the money. But the raw honesty in her words really draws listeners in, too. Ave-Lallemant has learned that she can take mistakes and channel them into something beautiful. "Your vulnerabilities become your greatest assets," she says. "That's one thing I've learned from my family too — not to be ashamed of yourself or ever doubt yourself and, mainly, not to be so hard on yourself."
We've all been through some shit, and FALINE is no exception. On "Gimme," she rehashes a bad love when she sings, "I don't remember the way that it's supposed to be/ I lost my interest when nature made a fool out of me." But rather than dwell in a cave of self-pity, Ave-Lallemant has learned to take pride in her flaws and use them as motivation to move beyond the past. "It's important to sit back and realize that whatever person you are, that's entirely you," she says. "It's very unique and it's beautiful, even if it's really fucked up."
While some of FALINE's songs have clear villains, she casts blame on herself, too ("I've made it easy/ You come crawling back," she sings on "Gimme"). Her voice bleeds with an unmistakable sense of pain while maintaining undertones of self-forgiveness. "I can't regret anything anymore," Ave-Lallemant says. And she doesn't have to now that she has proof that it's all worth it. "I took all these bad experiences, and now I can pop in a fuckin' disc and listen to it and realize that at least something came out of it that's positive and makes me feel like a good person."
"Valet," with its harmonies and building tension, is essentially all about spite. "[Spite] can make someone feel able enough to get out of bed," she says. With the conviction of a fighter she sings on the track, "I'll climb my way out of this ditch, cover it up with blood and spit."
"That's what I was going through," Ave-Lallemant explains. "Not really spite against anyone personally, but spite against my past self and my self-pitying self — just this inherent spite that's like, 'Fuck you, Jenna. You're the only one that can [climb your way out of this ditch].'"
"Valet" also begins with a scene: "Everyone was well-dressed in fancy cars, carelessly doing donuts in the gravel parking lot." Ave-Lallemant loves that first line. "I'm sitting here like, 'I fucked up so much, my knees are fucked up and I can barely walk, while everybody else who has done shit right, they're dressed well and they have all these expensive things at their disposal.'"
Meanwhile, "Illinois" references her sense of self-worth as something she inherited from her father, who lives in the Prairie State. Waking up to her dad singing in the middle of the night, it dawned on her how alike they are despite the distance that separated them for years. The lyrics, "Stable grounding what you get from digging holes and burning bridges/ Rest assured, you'll learn to want not for these things you don't deserve," portray the idea of letting go of what hurts you and learning to live with the rest.
"I believe in the idea everything does happen for a reason and nothing is happening to you in a way that you're, like, this helpless victim," Ave-Lallemant says. "It's happening to you because it's meant to formulate a positive response."