There are few albums as easily described as ‘beautiful’ as Haley Heynderickx’s debut I Need to Start a Garden. And yet, it’s an album that almost didn’t make it…
In 2016, Heynderickx released her debut EP, Fish Eyes. The four-track collection brought such praise that the Portland native quickly set about recording her debut album. Except, the recording process didn’t go smoothly as Heynderickx sought to capture the buzz of her live performances. So, recording restarted, only to stall again. In the end, Heynderickx recorded her vocal and guitar parts live, with instruments and backing vocals added at a later stage. Heynderickx’s unwavering determination here must be admired, but what about the music?
A gardener at work
With its introspective lyrics, I Need to Start a Garden is constantly digging for deeper meaning in what it is to be human. We immediately encounter this on the opener ‘No Face’. Here, Heynderickx questions what it is about herself that has made a lover leave her:
Face me entirely
Tell me what’s wrong here
Is it the bridge of my nose
Or the backs of my skin
Is it the pull of my hips
That you couldn’t let in”
On ‘Worth It’, the longest track on the album at nearly 8 minutes, Heynderickx utilises the electric guitar, showing her diverse skillset and ability to elevate lyrics through the use of a more aggressive instrument. ‘Jo’, too, a Jeff Buckley-esque track, features the electric guitar, with Heynderickx pining somewhat for a former lover.
Check out the irresistible, chirpy ‘Oom Sha La La’ below.
On ‘Untitled God Song’ we meet Heynderickx’s creator, a god who has “thick hips and big lips” and whose “shoes are all dressed up.” It’s a track that scrutinises social expectations for women but does so in a lighthearted way.
Closing with the heartfelt ‘Drinking Game’, an ode to the living and the dead, you can’t help but feel that I Need to Start a Garden has flourished fully. As the listener, you get to venture not only into Heynderickx’s thoughts but her life experiences too. Therein lies the beauty of the album, that while the stories are from her perspective, the themes are universal and personal to all.
Haley Haley Haley
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Featured image: Bandcamp