I knew better than to skip out on Haley Heynderickx’s recent live show in Portland while I was still around, but friends from home were able to see her here, where she apparently slipped up on a line once or twice in the most charming way — you know the kind of worry that’s spurned by brute force earnestness in the present day: it’s a panic that screams protect the fucking sweetheart! The mad world is coming! Though even if one should wish to belittle her so, the challenge would be a steep one. Any human being responsible for blending such sincerity with meticulous theory and 100%-fresh songwriting is of a quality your lazy ass would be bonkers to deride.
I’m not here to review I Need to Start a Garden, because that’d be futile and redundant. The establishment music media managed to see the magic — even NPR published an album review along with Pitchfork, PopMatters, The Young Folks, and Haley’s hometown Mercury. I am here only to make sure those of you like me who are made very uncomfortable by most indie folk — especially from the Northwest — set aside your assumptions for at least a few minutes to give this LP a chance, because it is absolutely brimming with the substance I spent a whole year whining about never being able to find in Potland. Ms. Heynderickx proves through her songwriting, alone, that she has a place among the circle of folk storytellers and river sages remaining contently in the bilges of rural America, but this thing is so much more. She has clearly suffered, but the insight she’s able to effectively convey so ethereally is not something young human beings should ignore or take for granted.
I just spent a good portion of the night preparing a condensed mix of the album for a friend’s school album analysis presentation. As we scrolled through 7 of its 8 tracks, the true technical mastery involved in the production of the work became much more apparent than it had been at first listen, just after its release all those months ago. Not that I’m trying to suggest that the indie scene needs “technical polish” — the money is in those words and arrangements, babies — just that I hadn’t recognized the scent of obsession until I sat down in front of the waveforms to rearrange the lot. It seems to me that most indie folk in the United States right now is coming from trust fund hippies and associated cousins of their particular hypocrisy. From my perspective, there’s no way to be a worse musician, and far too much young white breath is blown on a complete waste of time, but Haley Heynderickx has something to say which I can stand behind with zero cynicism or reluctance. Instead, it’s important that we uplift artwork like I Need to Start a Garden so that the people’s music can resume aspiring for better health.