The serendipitous spring release of I Need to Start a Garden anchored Haley Heynderickx’s brief, half hour debut in well-tilled soil. Her songs found fertile space with the expectancy of new growth. Revisiting this recording between recent fall commutes, however, has swayed my earlier musings. In anticipation of October’s vinyl repress (Mama Bird Recording Co.), I Need to Start a Garden shares spring’s reach for new life as much as autumn’s letting go.
“No Face” greets listeners with a fall leaf tumbling. Heynderickx’s voice is illuminating, capable of vibrating the highest buttress, yet charily plucked strings ground her words. “The Bug Collector” cascades around crisp vocal layering, steady strum patterns, and wisps of percussive shakes and trombone accents. “Jo” stares deeper into the vast unknown. Heynderickx’s mighty incantations pierce the openness, her vocal spells own more power than any electric instrument could muster.
The early notes and hummable melody on “Worth It” foreshadows Heynderickx’s foot stomp explosion. The responsiveness in drummer Philip Rogers turns large and direct, at times rumbling like a runaway Freightliner. Heynderickx’s vocal presence still dominates each verse, but her backing band flares reckless, holding the essential ear for when to go big and when to be still.
Side B’s collar grabber “Show You a Body” trickles like a Sufjan Stevens orchestral embellishment. Backing vocals drape and shimmering percussion reflect between Heynderickx’s “humbled by breaking down” confrontations. “Untitled God Song” echoes and details a kind, female deity who carries a designer handbag whilst trotting. Heynderickx explores her god in untethered add-ons while musically striking fanfare over its final minute. “Oom Sha La La” evokes a Courtney Barrett lyricism and vigor. Again, the use of a full band brings forth weight and shakes Heynderickx’s folk threaded motif. In fact, the album highlight is not in the reserved, discreet moments, rather in the repeated punkish shout, “I need to start a garden!”
On I Need to Start a Garden, Heynderickx landscapes a well-intended collection of songs with an impeccable ear for nuance and discovery. Her intuitive prose blooms around a gorgeous partner in sound. Whether heard as spring’s buds peek or near autumn’s gasp for chlorophyll, Heynderickx has summoned it all with a cyclical lure.