Today’s Song: Intimate Ruminations on Half Wolf’s “Birthday Sex”

Half Wolf © Ana Sanchez
The personal and enrapturing storytelling of Half wolf returns with “Birthday Sex,” a tale of intimacy that doesn’t go both ways.
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Listen: “Birthday Sex” – Half Wolf

Half Wolf’s Hannah Westerholm is no stranger to honesty and openness, a trait that elevates her artistry and musicianship, allowing listeners to enter her life through the visceral storytelling she employs. With each new single she releases, more windows begin creaking open, offering new details into the mind of Westerholm and her own experiences. With her latest single “Birthday Sex,” things become a little more intimate.

Birthday Sex – Half Wolf

An echo-y celebration begins the track, but it’s soon cut off to the welcomed return of Westerholm’s dulcet vocals. Half Wolf’s brand of folk is an intoxicating one, a massive part owed to the sincere and gorgeous balladry. Westerholm possesses an uncanny ability of captivating listeners with no more than a few notes hit and sung. One would be hard-pressed not to be immediately invested in the stories she shares, and “Birthday Sex” is no different. With the start of singing comes the story, and the setting becomes promptly placed before listeners.

He’s taking off his shirt
He’s taking off his pants
He’s gunna show me
What it means to be a man
excusez-moi it’s been a long time
It’s taking everything in me
not to run and hide

A peek into the bedroom, “Birthday Sex” is no raunchy tale. Instead, it’s an exploration of intimacy and the insecurities it can bring. A gentle percussion beat sets the pace of the song with melodious guitar playing accentuating the rhythm and creating a space of warmth and of comfort. With the stories Westerholm shares, they typically aren’t happy ones, but she doesn’t stay in despair nor does she allow misery to take over. Her openness is a beacon, a sign that she won’t be brought down, despite what life may throw at her.

Do I push the hair away from his face?
Do I stare into his eyes
for one second too late?
I am so bad at this and intimacy is to blame but
Birthday Sex is what I have to gain
Birthday Sex is all I have to gain

I am so bad at this and intimacy is to blame,” she laments as the first chorus begins. The nature of pleasure is on the discussion table, and it’s becoming evident it’s not a shared experience. As the calming melody continues to waft itself around listeners, the story unpacks further. She begins questioning herself, wondering how to proceed. It’s a distraught visual, one Westerholm shares with poise and grace, allowing it not to become a moment of defeat but one of growth.

Half Wolf © Ana Sanchez
I’m putting on my shirt I’m putting on my pants
It seems that everything
went according to plan
But I don’t like that
he’s heading towards the bathroom
Why does he feel the need
to be clean once has been with me?

With the final chorus, an onrush of vocals and rhythm arrive to close out the inner dialogue. The layered ending does well at enrapturing the audience as each beat and note clings to the ears in a soft, welcoming fashion. A lasting goodbye that will have the repeat button pressed indefinitely.

Do I lie and say that I came too?
Do I tell him all those noises I made they weren’t true?
I am so bad at this and intimacy is to blame but
Birthday Sex is what I have to gain
Birthday Sex is all I have to gain

Half Wolf excels at vulnerability and allowing herself to be fully seen. It’s this level of honesty that makes her such an admired talent, and “Birthday Sex” only further showcases why her bravery and musical savvy are to be lauded. 2020 has been a grim year, but Half Wolf’s return provides a beautiful light to comfort the soul with.

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Listen: “Birthday Sex” – Half Wolf

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? © Ana Sanchez

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