By Soda Canter
Across the collection, No shares her character’s questions for the world, while creating enough space for the listener to ask their own.
2. Sleeping in the Next Room
4. The Heartbreak Store
7. Mouring Dove Waltz
8. Annie Oakley
9. Shield and Sword
10. Getaway Car
Halfsies isn’t a casual listen. It requires quiet focus and a disregard for genre expectations to fully experience the brilliance of the album and No’s fictional character, Miss Freedomland.
With her third album, No has plotted a journey told from this character’s perspective as she searches for freedom across America, painting a picture along the way of vivid places and razor-sharp characters, trusting her instincts in refusing industry standards.
The title track feels like a stream of consciousness conversation with a close friend, sharing hushed secrets. As with much of Halfsies, this remarkable intimacy continues through the devastating ‘Sleeping in the Next Room’ into the tearfully rendered ‘The Heartbreak Store’, both slyly changing the power dynamics of the brokenhearted through brutal but relatable honesty.
Such openness is at the core of the album, making Miss Freedomland’s stories profoundly compelling. It is perhaps exemplified best on the striking ‘Annie Oakley’, a song about traveling as a person of color from town to town. When No sings, ”cause little black girls better move along when the sun goes down in this part of the country”, it's painfully clear she shares from her lived experience alone.
Across the collection, No shares her character’s questions for the world, while creating enough space for the listener to ask their own. When doors are bolted shut, what should a black artist in this industry do to create their work? Halfsies' answer is clear: stop knocking and build your own beautiful genre.
8 / 10
Lizzie No's new project, Halfsies, is out now via Miss Freedomland / Thirty Tigers.