Who: Haley Heynderickx (vocals, guitar), Lily Breshears (bass, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums).
Sounds like: The collected works of Rainer Maria Rilke transmuted into the offspring of Nashville Skyline-era Dylan…with a little Zooey Deschanel thrown in.
For fans of: Joanna Newsom, Jessica Pratt, Joni Mitchell.
As a kid, Haley Heynderickx yearned to shred.
At age 11, she sought out the only guitar tutor in her tiny hometown of Forest Grove, Ore. She was a model apprentice, diligent and focused. There was just one problem: Her teacher taught only bluegrass.
"My last name is Heynderickx," which is indeed pronounced "HEN-drix," she says. "I wanted to go electric!"
She eventually became grateful for her mentor's influence. After graduating from PSU, spending a few months in Prague and developing an infatuation for Bob Dylan, Heynderickx now recognizes his rootsy leanings as a key element setting her apart from other Dylan acolytes with art majors and Spanish guitars.
"When I started, I just wanted to be a punk," she says. "Now, I love sweet, slow country—enjoying acoustic music for its own sake."
It was in her only music course that she found another mentor in Megan McGeorge, of local band LEO. McGeorge encouraged Heynderickx to take her private hobby to a public stage. "She let me open for her in random bars," she says. "Me and a 12-string, tuning for 15 minutes, before I was old enough to drink."
It was in that initial exposure that she began writing the songs collected on her first EP. It's a dark and delicate balance of Elliott Smith and Angel Olsen, steeped in Nina Simone. For a 22-year-old, Heynderickx employs a sophisticated and smoky range. Her somber, jangly chords are accentuated perfectly with the flutter of arpeggio, with high-register vocals for ballast.
In the true fashion of a Dylan devotee, though, she delights in the recent acquisition of a Telecaster—and the possibility of finally "going electric."
"I have such a quiet voice," she says, "but the things I want to say are so loud."
SEE IT: Haley Heynderickx plays Mississippi Studios,
3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Esme Patterson, on Tuesday, Dec. 15. 8 pm. $8. 21+.