When I was 13 I came across Bon Iver and listened to "For Emma, Forever Ago" in a heartbeat. When I learned that Justin Vernon broke up with his girlfriend and his band, got sick with mono, and decided to seek refuge in a remote cabin in the Wisconsin woods where he recorded this album, my fascination toward his music grew even heavier.
For the last year, Andrew Holmes has been working in a van and making his music while traveling as a free-spirited musician. Just like Justin Vernon, Andrew uses his trauma, introspective observations on his psyche and experiences to feed his music. In his interview with the Dallas Observer, he explained “To me, Through the Hollows was about embracing life and doing things you regret so you can learn from them,” he says. “Garden has been three years of me coping with those decisions and learning to live above them.”
Photos of Andrew Holmes in his 1990 Chevy G20 Van. Photos by Ash Highberger
Garden starts off with "Fear Makes the Wolf Look Bigger" Andrew sings "Honey nobody knows what they are doing all of the time, we're the clay hearts of children molded by hands of time." It sounds like a letter for a younger Andrew who has been struggling with the decisions he made over the course of the years. The song is followed by echoey instrumentals that reflect the uncertainty of the lyrics perfectly. The drums are self-aware and loud though it doesn't take over the whole song. It mimics the foot steps into a future that Andrew is confidently working towards.
Boomerang is another one of my favorites. The instrumentals are very atmospheric and immersive that it feels like you accompany Andrew through his self-reflection. Passing Conversation captures the perfect nostalgia of an old relationship and the new reality of being alone and going through life solo. Phoenix is as interesting in terms of sound as the lyrics and the story it tells. He sings about becoming someone new, seeing life through a new pair of eyes and turning the past into something else. The song finishes in a cathartic loudness that reflects the big changes that occurred in Andrew's life. Abby Gundersen (Noah Gundersen, Phoebe Bridgers) on vocal harmonies and violin, and Dallas’ Taylor Nicks (Atlantis Aquarius) helped the song come alive.
The album finishes off with The Flowers of June, a bittersweet song about growth, a recurring theme in Garden. The violins add the effect of a wind of change, a new time to bloom. Garden is an amazing time capsule that encapsulates a man's growth, trauma responses and a bright new perspective. Andrew Holmes is a bright star in the making and the singer/songwriter you need to keep an eye out for if you enjoy Phosphorescent, Phoebe Bridgers, Ben Howard and Frightened Rabbit.
Listen to his new album Garden now: