Haley Heynderickx's Debut Album Imagines the Self as Garden
Portland, Oregon singer-songwriter, Haley Heynderickx, manages to search for herself while simultaneously gazing inward and reaching outward to the world around her. Her new LP, I Need to Start a Garden, stresses the ache of being alive and emphasizes the importance of tending to your own garden, whether that be literal or the vegetation that sprouts and grows within.
Heynderickx decides to toss away the sour milk and expired olives from her life in the track, “Oom Sha La La,” as she yearns for some type of rebirth or mending. While the pace of the ticking drums picks up Heynderickx vigorously sings, “I’m tired of my mind getting heavy with mold/I need to start a garden/I need to start a garden/I need to start a garden/I need to start a garden.” Each need becoming noisier than the last--like they are stemming from one another’s existence.
Most tracks on I Need to Start a Garden feel simplistic or minimalist instrumentally with Heynderickx’s deft guitar plucking and stripped down, phantom-like vocals. She demonstrates her folk influences in the first track “No Face,” as she croons beside precise and raw acoustic riffs. It’s a ballad that haunts any space it occupies. She plants the seed when she sings, “Face me/Face me entirely/Tell me/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.”
Similarly, “The Bug Collector,” builds off of “No Face” as it hosts a ghost filled atmosphere, but with a whining trombone. Heynderickx’s clever songwriting is illuminated as she compares bugs in one’s home to one’s own troubles or anxieties. She sings of trapping and collecting insects from various rooms; perhaps to signify that you can also bottle up your own anxieties and peer in at them from behind a clear lens.
Heynderickx’s also addresses the act of outside forces defining her in the eight-minute whirlwind, “Worth It.” The track fades and undulates constantly with a glistening percussion and shimmery guitar riffs as there’s not a moment of quiet. It feels almost as if Heynderickx is taking short breaths of air between each impassioned thought. She punches out the lyric, “So put me in a line/Add another line/Soon you’ll have a box and you can put me inside/Put me in a box boy/Put me in a box and call me anything you want boy.”
There are things even beyond this world that cannot be explained or help us make sense of “I,” and Heynderickx knows this. In the jazz touched track, “Untitled God Song,” she talks of a god, addressing the higher power as “she” (amen), and how this entity that maybe “has a trot in her walk” or maybe “has big hips and big lips,” spins her like a marionette creating a seemingly never ending and invisible web.
Sometimes it seems pointless or obligatory to analyze the self or existence in general because the web will keep spinning no matter what. If there’s anything to take away from I Need to Start a Garden, it’s that living things and even spaces need to be fed and nourished from beyond the physical self, and rather from within.