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Justin Hale is back with another smooth EP to keep you warm and boo’d up on one of the coldest Valentine’s Days Seattle has seen in decades. After releasing his Rain City EP back in mid-December, Hale is keeping the energy rolling with another 5-track EP titled, Thorns.

Delving into similar topics of love, lust, and loneliness, the EP sees noticeably smooth production that I’ve come to expect from Hale. This release sees him further locking-in his sound that combines the sensibilities of early 2000s R&B with modern hip-hop feels.

Thorns opens similarly to Rain City with a radio broadcast setting the tone for the rest of the EP. This time it’s a weather report stating the inclement conditions in the city are perfect for cuddling up close to someone special this Valentine’s Day. What follows is a super gritty down-tempo beat that has Hale describing the different aspects of love and desire, both good and bad. This short intro truly is the perfect mood-setter for what follows.

Justin Hale – Thorns EP

The first track, “Best Friend,” comes in on some smooth bedroom jam vibes that quickly heads to a teaser hook. Hale goes in on some bars about playing the friend to a girl going through a tumultuous relationship. The hook goes, “girl I want you to love me like a best friend, call me when you’re stressin.” This highlights a role men don’t often speak up about. The friend zone isn’t a popular place, but everyone’s been there more times than they’d like to admit.

“Lonely Hearts Club (PTSD)” follows as the more upbeat anthem-esque banger of the EP. Despite this not being the title track of Thorns, I think a lot of the inspiration for the concept of the EP came from this song’s formation. It discusses the nature of being used and abused and having baggage, but it still being ok to seek out love. If you find someone that knows that pain, you can grow together and shed that toxic skin.

New EP "Thorns" From Justin Hale Is Perfect For Valentine's DayThis leads to the title track, “Thorns.” The production kicks off on some vibes that immediately tell me Hale still bumps a lot of classic ‘90s and ‘00s R&B, like 702. This track is the overarching idea behind the EP. We all may try to look beautiful on the surface, but we all have our thorns and they come out in different ways when it comes to relationships. Whether you’re the type to bail prematurely, or the type to try and keep a shaky situation together.

The EP ends on a more positive tip as Hale seems to find his ideal rose in “Love Letters From LA part 2.” He spits bars over a theatrical beat with some heavy string samples about a beautiful girl he meets with a similarly tortured past. Justin Hale is definitely a lover, not a fighter. These songs show he’s growing both as an artist, and as a partner. Thorns is his way of moving past a lot of the negativity that surrounds his past and fully blooming.

Be on the lookout for more work dropping from this dude in the near future. It seems like he’s putting out these smaller EPs in preparation for something much bigger. I feel like the city is soon to realize they’ve got a big crush on Justin Hale.

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“It’s ok to feel….just don’t say that you love me…cuz I get nervous still…PTSD when you touch me…..but it’s ok to feel…just don’t say that you love me…cuz I feel safe on my own…Lonely Hearts Club don’t invite me..” – Lonely Hearts Club, single from “Thorns” 🥀 . . With only a few weeks away until the release of my first EP of the new year I’ve found myself listening to the project searching for some flaw I didn’t catch or some note that may be off key…but someone wise once said “nothing is perfect..and neither is your art” so you have to learn to fall in love with it enough to let it go…and move on to the next one…with that being said I hope you all love it as much as I do because this is as deep as I’ve gone emotionally in my career….🥀 -J.H PRE-ORDER ON ITUNES…release date: Feb. 14th 2019

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