Haley Heynderickx Photo by Alessandra Leimer

I first heard singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx when she opened for Ani DiFranco at the State Theatre in June 2018, and I remember being quite struck by her vocals, a sublime mix of fragile and sinewy on high-caliber lyrics.

Upon hearing that Heynderickx, who is based in Portland, Oregon, was coming back to Maine for a show at Space, I decided to dive into her debut album, “I Need to Start a Garden.” The collection of eight songs is a true piece of art. “You tended the garden like heaven and hell/And you built the birds houses to see if it helped at all,” sings Heynderickx in “Jo,” with raw emotion hanging on every note.

In “The Bug Collector,” Heynderickx sings, “There’s a praying mantis prancing on your bathtub/And you swear it’s a priest from a past life out to get you.” A trombone comes in just for a few seconds, and I can’t imagine the song without it – or the other perfectly timed appearances. With a delicate acoustic guitar and a few twinkles of other instruments and backing vocals, the song is without defect. Even when Heynderickx drops an F-bomb, it sounds beautiful.

“Oom Sha La La” has a ’60s folk vibe, with the title repeated in the refrain. Then, out of nowhere, midway through the song, Heynderickx lets loose with a wail of “I need to start a garden!” Then its back to the hippy, trippy refrain.

Heynderickx has been touring incessantly since the album came out in March and just got back from Australia, where she performed with Aussie artist Angie McMahon, according to her publicist, who said she is also in the midst of writing new songs. Yeah!

Heynderickx also has a Maine connection. She and local singer-songwriter Max Garcia Conover recorded an EP together, released last year, called “Among Horses III.” It’s the result of a series put on by record label Son Canciones, which sends two songwriters who don’t know each other to a farm in Spain with a producer and gear.

“I met Haley the day before we left for the farm and then over the next week we made that EP. Making an album in a week is nuts and I feel very lucky to have been paired up with Haley, and I’m not sure it would’ve worked with anyone else,” said Garcia Conover, who called her a “staggeringly good songwriter.”

Opening the show for Heynderickx is Tre Burt, an artist from Sacramento, California. Burt just released the single “Caught It from the Eye” and was recently signed to Oh Boy Records in Nashville, the label started by folk icon John Prine in 1981.

Haley Heynderickx with Tre Burt
8:30 p.m. Thursday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, $15 in advance, $18 day of show, all ages. space538.org


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