Ashley Frangipane, better known by her stage name Halsey, has become a well established singer songwriter in her own right. Halsey is an anagram of Ashley and is also from Halsey Street in Brooklyn where she formed her identity. From posting YouTube covers to having her own “American Youth” tour with Young Rising Sons and Olivver the Kid back in March, she has come a long way as an artist. Until recently, Halsey had only headlined small venues but now she is about to embark on the Smoke and Mirrors tour with Imagine Dragons at big arenas. She is the opening act for this tour coming this June. She released the Room 93 EP back in 2014 but has only recently released the EP worldwide.
Room 93 is Halsey’s first debut record. The theme surrounding the EP is what happens in a fictional hotel room that Halsey said was inspired by her constantly moving from place to place staying in hotel rooms. Room 93 has an ethereal experience attached to it. When you listen to it, you get a feel for all these stories interwoven in this one hotel room.
The first song on the EP, “Is There Somewhere” contains Halsey echoing a sense of a girl being reluctantly sexually involved with someone who is already romantically involved with someone else. It tells of pretending to fall in love for one night and “White sheets, bright lights, crooked teeth, and the night life”. The ambient sounds of synth lead the listener to a sense of nostalgia for a young age once again. The song has a honest, raw feel attached making the listener empathise with the girl’s position. “Is There Somewhere” is a simplistic track but in terms of production, it runs smoothly.
On “Ghost”, Halsey’s haunting vocals have a heavy influence over the structure of the song. The fast paced verses are accompanied by the upbeat sounds of synth. The feel of the song is reminiscent of an emotional longing for someone else. This certain track is a standout in showcasing Halsey’s power as a lyricist with lines like “My ghost, where’d you go? What happened to the soul that you used to be?”
“Hurricane” is a personal favourite of mine out of this entire EP. It conveys a feminist message that females “don’t belong to no city, don’t belong to no man”. Women are empowered by comparing them to a hurricane and gives them the chance to state “I’m the violence in the pouring rain””. Hurricane is also a callback to her stage name with Halsey Street being in Brooklyn at the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant and the lyrics mention that “There’s a place way down in Bed Stuy”. With the chorus of “ha ah ah ha ah ah ah” threaded into the background, this gives the record more of an ethereal sense.
“Empty Gold” has a sharp edge piercing throughout the track. There is a prominent electro beat that uplifts the song into an energetic, fast paced dance record. It gives the EP a whole new vibe from hauntingly beautiful to a more upbeat, electro pop feel. The track jumps to and fro from a segment of chants and whistles to intense, thumping electronic beats. This jumping between gives the listener a pleasant experience that still flows well throughout.
We come to the last track “Trouble”. This is a stripped back version showcasing Halsey’s vocal prowess accompanied by the raw sound of piano keys. “Trouble” is proof that Halsey can veer away from electro pop and still give her all in a polished record that will make people emotional with her haunting vocals alone. The piano gives a refreshing feel to the song and finishes it off nicely.
Overall, Room 93 is a well put together, cohesive record that flows well from track to track. Halsey’s honesty comes across in her raw, poetic lyrics that she has transcribed. It is a collection of poetry told through the form of melody. The dark, haunting lyrics give the EP a visual element where the listener can picture this hotel room and all that it witnesses. Room 93 is a good eye opener into what Halsey is capable of. I look forward to her debut full length album, Badlands, coming this August. I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next and only hope that even more of her potential is fulfilled with the freedom a full length album possesses.
Review by Jade Fowler