Haley Heynderickx
I Need to Start a Garden


4.5
superb

Review

by BlushfulHippocrene CONTRIBUTOR (21 Reviews)
March 7th, 2018 | 174 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lover of song, find your voice

Above the soil beneath its blossoms – somewhere over and between its sharp, uncomplicated foundations – I Need to Start a Garden sounds imposed upon. A landscape of soft browns and verdant greens, the collection of eight songs is one of ample blemishes, plentiful splatters – each indelible, each unmistakably human. On 'The Bug Collector', it's a sudden, percussive rattle; a series of appearing, disappearing, reappearing trombone pulls; a subtle ambience that buries itself within the background as a delicate tension buds, without warning, within the song's patchwork. Even at its core the song is meticulous: a wholesome slice of folk music, assured in its structure, dedicated to the beauty of it all. 'Show You a Body' isn't so discreet. Dramatic piano flutters coalesce with double bass bows to fill spaces between (and later obfuscate) Heynderickx’s sparser-than-usual songwriting. Within either example, however, the album's dichotomies remain clear: a discordant existence between its foundation and adornments; a struggle as internal as it is external; and the beautiful push and pull that exists between these.

Opener 'No Face' unfurls the album toward a billow of questions. "Is it the pull of my hips/ that you couldn't let in"" moans Heynderickx in the present tense, before lamenting, "Well, I wish that I had known." The song’s title exists in reference to both its opening lyric (“face me entirely”) and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, in which a masked spirit, Kaonashi (“faceless”) falls in love with the film’s human protagonist. His obsession with the child – a cause of significant tension within the film – leads the spirit down a path of destruction, foolishly adopting the most negative of human traits in a bid for her affection. It’s an apt allusion; I Need to Start a Garden’s own conflict – dependence, an unwillingness to let go – parallels that of Kaonashi’s well. Following from ‘No Face’, the aforementioned ‘Bug Collector’ adopts a similarly surreal, ethereal tone: “and there’s a centipede naked in your bedroom/ oh, and you swear to god, the fucker’s out to get you,” it begins, detailing the singer’s futile battles with various insects (“centipedes,” “millipedes,” “mantises”; “fuckers,” “sluggers”, “priests”) that plague her lover’s, and by extension her day. It’s a simple, though far from crude metaphor; Heynderickx is as careful with word choice as she is melody. Each insect is more significant than the last, each “and I digress” more restless, resigned. While mid-album epic 'Worth It' accomplishes less in eight minutes than 'No Face' does in under two, its thematic meander gives way to profound proclamation in its climax: “maybe I’ve, maybe I’ve been worth it.” It’s an assertive nod, borne of desperation, though no less powerful, the first of several surprises on I Need to Start a Garden.

I’ve little doubt that the album has existed in some form or another for a long time. It’s not so much that the songs sound tired (although I suspect most were written a considerable length of time prior to their release) but rather the album, in its parts or as a whole, sounds considered – mulled over and meticulous. The tuning present on ‘The Bug Collector’, for instance, foregoes the need for a bassist as its protagonist faces battle alone, wielding little more than a deformed acoustic and a marred perspective. Foreign, imposing sounds are lain atop delicate, loose-stringed structures for something altogether more evocative than it is convenient: a sudden, percussive rattle to indicate the start of a showdown; successive trombone pulls to conjure the fragile, albeit insurmountable foe; inconspicuous ambiance to remind us – and her – of the inevitability of defeat. Unlike several other of the album’s composite parts, its is a subtle imposition, a tenuous disharmony – between the song’s foundation and its surrounding instrumentation. It seems to me a literal imposition, too. Each of I Need to Start a Garden’s songs (barring perhaps lead single ‘Oom Sha La La’) sounds raw, as though Heynderickx recorded them live – at their most base – before dressing them up with these instrumental embellishments. (I write “blemishes,” “embellishments,” but in truth a great deal of the album’s power relies on its accompanying musicians, in spite of Heynderickx’s raw appeal.)

And I digress, for I Need to Start a Garden is an album of searching – of exploration and soul-seeking, culminating into something akin to that of self-affirmation. At some point, the apostrophising stops. On ‘Show You a Body,’ the singer chants: “I am letting you go, I am letting you go awry,” and indeed, somewhere between the ghostly “ooh”s, the coalescence and dissipation of guitar and piano, the “you” dies. The song is both climax and turning point, by the end of which Heynderickx is able to put to death at once her former self and its reliance on these forlorn manifestations of lovers past. And ultimately, having overcome – or at least having put behind – these internal preoccupations, the singer formulates an external solution by way of the album’s titular mantra, “I need to start a garden.” A gorgeous smattering of electric folk, ‘Oom Sha La La’ immortalises the line in its climax – the sound of desperate bliss. I Need to Start a Garden is, thus, its own solution, its own life-affirming motto, its own garden, a deeply engaging manifestation of past grief and inevitable triumph.



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2018


2395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love you all. Listen here: http://tunes.mamabirdrecordingco.com/album/i-need-to-start-a-garden

Digging: LUMP (UK) - LUMP

theBoneyKing
March 6th 2018


14801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Absolutely superb review Blush - dare I say one of the best I've read on the site in a good while. Despite just floating past me on my first few listens this album really opened up for me today, and you do a much better job of articulating its strengths than I ever could.

Digging: Neko Case - Hell-On

verdant
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2018


2186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

i am humbled by a) breaking down, b) this review, and c) the quiet majesty of this album

Dewinged
March 7th 2018


9958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wasn't sold on this album but like hell I am now after reading your review Blush.





Digging: Mourn (SPA) - Sorpresa Familia

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


2334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

review is boner, album is boner, life’s good

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


21953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that first paragraph is some gorgeous writing, Adeel. well done

Digging: Melody's Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

VaxXi
March 7th 2018


4353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wish this album had a little more brass, maybe i owe it a relisten though

Lucid
March 7th 2018


9657 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what gorgeous, confident writing we have here. you're in a class of your own at this stage. i like the verdant namedrop ;)

anyone else reminded of tallest man on earth by the guitarwork? particularly the shallow grave era. also I seem to be alone in having the closer as my favorite. when she unfurls the song with those "ooohs" at the end i just melt.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


21953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

guitarwork is quite gorgeous. about halfway thru this and I like what I'm hearing.

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


2395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you all so much for reading, it means a lot.

@Lucid ;) and also yes, yes, yes! Something about the fingerpicking; the tone's very different, but Bug Collector in particular has always sounded to me like a more lethargic Where Do My Bluebird Fly. You can find a lot of Dylan covers online, too, so there's certainly some influence there as well.

Comment when Show You a Body hits pls Connor.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


21953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just started...woah

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


2395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am humbled by breaking down

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


21953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad this is in my life at this time.

verdant
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2018


2186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

i'm tired of my mind getting heavy with mold

Divaman
March 7th 2018


2313 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I checked out her EP based on your review, and I liked it. I'll give this a shot too. Nice job.

Digging: Jay Som - Everybody Works

theBoneyKing
March 7th 2018


14801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is really elevated by the little sonic details. Only tracks I’m not quite sold on at this point are No Face and Oom Sha La La.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


21953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah agreed hard with Oom Sha La La, def my least favorite but the rest of this is pretty special.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2018


40341 Comments


review twiddles my knobs and pushes my buttons

great work

Digging: Beyonce and Jay-Z - Everything Is Love

theBoneyKing
March 7th 2018


14801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I get what she’s going for with Oom Sha La La but I’m not quite sure she’s successful in it.

Bug Collector, Worth It, and Show You a Body are the big highlights. Worth It especially - there not only does she sound like Angel Olsen as on the rest of the record but she also manages to channel some of the magic of her best songwriting.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2018


21953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Worth It / Show You a Body is the best 1-2 punch



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