Much has been made about the debut album by Haley Heynderickx. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. In my bubble of social media, aha being hailed as one of the great singer/songwriter’s of the next generation. Time will tell if that is true, but I Need To Start A Garden is certainly a great start.
The album is eight tracks that clock in right at 30 minutes. Short enough to easily digest in one sitting, but long enough to squeeze in a lot of yearning and ask some big questions. It’s a slow burn that gets bigger and better as it moves along.
It comes at you in sections. The first three songs sound enough alike in tempo and key that they kind of melt together into one big song. Then “Worth It” comes on and changes the whole dynamic of the record. It’s a huge song, both in length (almost 8 minutes) and ideas. The guitar that opens the song sounds different than what’s been going on in the first few songs. The vocals are pushed way out front and unencumbered by other instruments. There’s no real chorus, but a lot of repetition in the lyrics, like this line that gets repeated in the second verse: “Put me in a box, boy Put me in a box Put me in a box and call me anything you want, boy.”
The tempo increases throughout that verse until it switches fully from a slow burning ballad to a fun rock track. Then it just as quickly slows down again, almost to a stop, before heading into the third and final verse. The structure makes it interesting, and the execution makes it a really great piece of music.
The other uptempo track is one you may have heard already. “Oom Sha La La” came out as a single last year and propelled the interest in this album. I liked it immediately, as it incorporates doo-wop in the same way Ezra Furman does. There’s some Courtney Barnett in this track as well, but I like Heynderickx’s music better. The lyrics here are great and much different from “Worth It.”
If you don’t go outside/Well nothing’s gonna happen/She’ll never write her number on a crumpled up napkin/She’ll never be your ego/She’ll never be a bandit/She’ll never get to eat you like your heart’s a pomegranate
I Need To Start A Garden is a very affecting and beautiful way to start a musical career. The way Heynderickx uses her voice to convey emotions is phenomenal, and the restraint with the music allows the bigger moments to feel enormous.