Holly Humberstone’s 'Paint My Bedroom Black' is an ode to friendships, growing pains, and self-love

November 3, 2023

By Kelly Schwint

Holly Humberstone’s Paint My Bedroom Black is simultaneously a love letter—to herself, her friends, and her family—and a scarce plea to fulfill the commitment of relationships with the ones she loves. While a turn from previous EPs, Humberstone’s themes remain the same in her debut record—cherishing friendships, experiencing growing pains, and learning to value yourself. She utilizes the same resources: a soft, melancholy voice and instruments that stand out but also supplement her vocals. 

The 23-year-old singer/songwriter jumps right in and begins the album by letting go of toxic relationships and allowing herself to feel worthy. The magic of Humberstone’s music lies in her ability to make the listener feel seen. On Paint My Bedroom Black, she addresses herself and her experiences more confidently than before, without shying away from personal details, singing, “No, I don’t feel that sinking feeling no more / I think it’s gonna be alright,” in the title track. 

Humberstone’s lyrics carry along one of the most preeminent songs on the album, “Lauren,” an emotional love song for a friend. She expresses her disconnect in the first verse, “I used to drive you home / Now I just drive you crazy.” The detachment was rooted in physical distance—Humberstone was on tour and away from her friends and family—but is still relatable for anyone missing a friend. Whether they’re away for college or just fading apart, Humberstone boils down the distant emotions into a universal state.

“Everybody’s up and left / And I can barely catch my breath.”

“And where the hell did our childhood go? / It freaks me out how fast we grow,” Humberstone sings in “Ghost Me,” my favorite track on the album. She dives directly into clinging onto those in your life and the fear they’ll leave you. During the growing pains of my life—attending college and navigating young adulthood—I found many of my friendships are transient. Yet, I’m still attached to a nonexistent ideal of consistency. “Everybody’s up and left / And I can barely catch my breath.” She perfectly describes the challenging reality I and many others are going through. Life around me is changing, and sometimes I can’t keep up with it. Small, gradual changes add up, and suddenly, I look up, and nothing is the same. “Ghost Me” encapsulates this universal predicament.

The album ends with the beautiful, softly sung ballad “Room Service.” Humberstone expresses her affection for the ones in her life that she misses—a juxtaposition from the first track. She moves through the album, bouncing from different feelings, but ends on an endearing note. The small parts of life are often the most important and special memories, even just ordering room service with a friend in a hotel. By this final track, Humberstone isn’t running anymore. Instead, she is chasing after the life she remembers back home. “We’ll look around / To see we’ve lived another year / Someday I’ll fill the calendar / with plans for you, my dear.” She writes authentically about life and, without a doubt, captivates the listener with those words. 


Holly Humberstone's debut album Paint My Bedroom Black was released Friday, October 13. Listen here: