Artists You Should Know: Half Gringa Guides Through Gloom and Misery on New EP “Ancestral Home”

Half Ginga 2023 press photo
Photo by Isabel Olive

Midwestern folk and Latin American pop are not two genres commonly mentioned in the same sentence. But for the Chicago-based music outfit Half Gringa, it’s the two foremost genres widely associated with singer-songwriter Isabel Olive’s current output. Her most recent EP, Ancestral Home, is no different, offering melodies that remedy the trauma of family grief and desolation. Previously released with an accompanying music video featuring Olive as a struggling actor, “Miranda” follows a hazy narrative through buzzing guitars about a girl named Miranda who’s afraid of commitment. Or maybe of herself? The lyrics themselves read like esoterica, only revealing the deepest caverns of Olive’s psyche without any of the details.

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links.


Raised in a Venezuelan family, Olive’s duality is evident from the very name of Half Gringa. In reference to her childhood nickname as “la gringa,” the foreign girl in English, the name works to punctuate her musical duality that combines genres effortlessly.

“Well Soon” initially begins with what sounds like the sinking of an airship reverberating through echoing waters before thundering drums lead to a climax that never comes. The lack of closure in the music aligns with the thematic feeling of longing, an emotion in many of Half Gringa’s songs. As for “Sevenwater” and “No Kind of Fire,” the two are much more in line with folk music and serve as prime examples of Olive’s childhood growing up in the Midwest. Both tracks still feature Olive’s impeccable songwriting, the likes of which never fail to hit home despite strictly pertaining to Olive and her introspective outlook on her life.

band to watch 2023

Half Gringa could not be complete without the contributions of drummer Abby Black and co-producer Nicholas Papaleo. The three’s capabilities come together on EP opener “Some Curse.” Starting with the soft plucking of an acoustic before slowly building into an indie-rock finisher, it’s appropriately melancholic in its reverence for the subject matter. That subject matter might be too personal for anyone outside of Olive’s circle to know completely. But due to the emotion in her voice, the music is sure to resonate with most listeners.


Words: David Sosa

Ancestral Home by Half Gringa is now on all streaming services. For more on future releases and live shows, follow them on their website, Instagram, and Bandcamp.

submit your new song
influential black women femalesingers