Haley Heynderickx - not sure if that’s a nom de plume or not - drops her debut LP via Mama Bird (Courtney Marie Andrews, Vikesh Kapoor). The press release seemed quite keen for this blurb writer to not compare her to Angel Olsen, but when someone sounds like Angel Olsen then I guess someone just sounds like Angel Olsen. That is, of course, no bad thing, and tracks like ‘No Face’ have sincerity and beauty to match Olsen’s best work.
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I remember a time in my younger years where all I wanted to do was listen to the Tallest Man On Earth’s early records and say things like, “see, he’s Bob Dylan… but fast!” to the people who had the unfortunate luck of calling me their friend. His rapidfire finger-picking matched up with a somehow quickly sensitive heart that made me never want to quit him. He went bad, and I moved on, but listening to Haley Heynderickx speedrun herself across an acoustic guitar making me feel the hype all over again.
With clarity and swiftness, Heynderickx actually makes a record much more full, and much more evocative, than a solo folkie usually does. At the start of things she’s racing against herself in a folkie time trial, but it’s on “The Bug Collector” we’re finally fully in it, her barebones tune given fanfare trumpets and shimmering processed guitar that prove her a fantastic arranger, too. She slows down on “Jo”, taking her time to create a cascade of guitar picks that dance around her voice before meeting a lounge-lorn ending of brass and brushed drums. As if having mastered one style and moving on to another, she uses her nimble, inventive picking abilities to create “Worth It”, which is slowcore meets American Football.
The record almost starts to feel busy, at this point, so much does it deviate from its initial blueprint -- it’s this same swamp of ideas, though, that makes it so endlessly listenable, each song a new surprise, with the patient and almost dormant “Show You a Body” halting on dramatic silences and pianos that open up and strings that avert their eyes. Not to get too Dad Joke As An Album Review on this one, but Heynderickx’s album is indeed like a really awesome, extremely overgrown garden that could do with some sorting out.
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