Pittsburgh musician Halloway Williams releases "magical" new EP ROCKABYE | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh musician Halloway Williams releases "magical" new EP ROCKABYE

click to enlarge Pittsburgh musician Halloway Williams releases "magical" new EP ROCKABYE
Photo: Iris and Rose Photography
Billie Sue Bracken aka Halloway Williams
Pittsburgh-based musician Billie Sue Bracken, who performs under the name Halloway Williams, released her new EP, ROCKABYE, on a day she considers magical.

Bracken, a queer musician who specializes in indie pop music, dropped ROCKABYE on Feb. 2, aka 2/22/22, a date that numerologists believe comes with special connections, and that energy is apparent throughout the album, with talks of hummingbirds, sugar, and ice cream in addition to more serious topics of loss, mental illness, and coming of age.

Originally from Indiana County, Bracken moved to Pittsburgh in 2018, and describes herself as “part-time nanny and a part-time rockstar.”

“I've been singing and playing music as far back as I can remember, but I started songwriting around age 16," says Bracken. "Since then, I've taught myself many instruments and how to produce my own music."

ROCKABYE shines as a well-produced project with thorough lyrics and expansive sound. This is especially impressive when you learn that every instrument and vocal arrangement is done by Bracken herself. She also mixed and mastered it on her own.

The first track on the EP, “The Sound of It All,” is a piano ballad that begins with “this body’s strong, this body’s weak, it’s held me up and helped me see.” The song, at only around two minutes long, still packs an emotional punch, especially with lines like “my soul is heavy and it brings it all down.”

“This album was extremely challenging, not only because I was teaching myself how to produce it, but because of the topics that I cover," says Bracken. "The album tells a story about growing up and essentially losing your childhood. There were quite a few times where I had to step away from it because I found myself really emotional."
“Most of the strong emotions were centered around grieving the loss of family members, a dear friend, and a person that I was in love with," she adds. "It is heavy stuff to go through over and over again alone and there were times that I thought of walking away from all of it completely. The best I could do for myself was to give myself grace about it all and continue to seek help as I needed. After all was said and done, I could see that the process overall allowed for a great amount of healing.”

Another great track on the EP is “Sugar (Pap’s Garden),” a song that really digs into the topic of losing your childhood, and losing ones you love. Bracken’s voice emerges steady and sugar-coated. The instrumentals throughout ROCKABYE make you feel like you’re walking through a lush forest, surrounded by green and sunlight.

Bracken says she hopes people walk away from this project feeling more connected to one another, and more willing to share their own experiences of perseverance.

“Also, as a queer artist who grew from humble beginnings, first writing songs in the trailer park she grew up in, I'm hoping others like me feel empowered to share their own stories with a knowing that you can make beautiful things if you set your mind to it,” says Bracken.

ROCKABYE is available on streaming platforms now.