Born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane nearly 27 years ago, the bisexual artist known as Halsey is not one to slow down.
During the first year of the pandemic, which hit less than two months after release of third album Manic, Halsey got to work on a book of poetry, another album of all-new material, a companion film originally screened at select IMAX theaters and now part of the HBO Max lineup, and, last but far from least, gave birth to her first child, Ender.
And that experience has provided much of the creative fuel for If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, an album, released in August of 2021, that explores, in her own words, “the joys and horrors of pregnancy and motherhood.”
True to its title, the album radiates strength and intensity. With a production assist from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails, Halsey layers dark, industrial elements over her sound in a palpable, but not overwhelming, way.
Motherhood looms large in the background and foreground, and in Halsey’s hands it is not so much a conceptual starting point as it is an expansive scaffolding from which to explore feminine power and resilience.
She lays that out most clearly on “I Am Not A Woman, I’m A God,” an electro-R&B track that lays out the complicated, contradictory nature of her position, claiming divinity in the titular lyric and then declaring a breath later, “I am not a legend, I’m a fraud.”
Despite dressing up as the Virgin Mary on the album cover, Halsey is not interested in being a one-dimensional archetype of empowerment. She’s developed a powerful, and powerfully complex, persona, and puts on one hell of a live show to match.
Expect fireworks emanating from the stage when she makes her headlining debut at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Wednesday. Opening sets from beabadoobee and Between Friends.
Wednesday, June 8, at 7 p.m.
Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.
Tickets are $22 to $149.50.
Call 800-551-SEAT or visit www.merriweathermusic.com.
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