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Anya Hinkle on “Eden and Her Borderlands,” Helping Ukraine, and What She Has to Say

AHK

The debut song of its titular album, “Eden and Her Borderlands” is a slow, and vibrant trek across the described promised land. Leaning heavily on dusty Southern imagery and a swath of Biblical references, the song serves to establish a mood in the listener for the entirety of the album.

Twangy acoustic guitar opens the song, and along with blunt thumps from a steady kick drum, the song establishes itself soundly in a contemporary country sound. Hints of violin and a backing acoustic track can be heard and are used to accent Anya Hinkle’s vocals: primarily in the bridges between the slower verses. The focus, however, is clearly on Hinkle’s voice. All instruments work to prop up the warm and drawled lyrics as she describes the lands she and the listener travel. Establishing this sense of travel and beauty in the pre-chorus, the first chorus directly showcases the many Biblical themes that the song relies on. Each bridge between the chorus references animals important in Christian canon. “The lion kills not/The wolf lies at the foot of the cedars/with the lamb sayin’, ‘come lie with me.’” This description of paradise also includes these mentions of more mundane trees and hills and rivers, creating this feeling of our world being to borderlands to this biblical Eden. The way Hinkle moves from chorus to bridge and the delivery of the song’s title at the end of each chorus stick with me when listening, and sound so unique: it’s almost as though she growls them out in this very folk-rock way. This combined with the instrumental interludes between the first and second halves of the song almost gives a melancholic energy to the song between all the descriptions of paradise.

Anya Hinkle’s quiet but warm joy on the vocals of “Eden and Her Borderlands” feels like a spring sunshine: gentle and washing over the listener as the track draws on. Being from the South myself, there’s this familiarity I feel listening to. The imagery feels tangible between the lyrics themselves, and this image that’s conjured from the classic country sound.

The start of “Eden and Her Borderlands” details a trip between singer and listener. Was this inspired by a trip you’ve taken?

Approximately, the trip is out to California, a cross country trip to a place that feels like going to Eden, a place of innocence and wholeness. And as we approach Eden, we increasingly find freedom from the confines of this life. Although it’s not explicitly about death, it’s about finding freedom from all the things that burden us in our thinking most of our lives, by letting go and rediscovering our essence.

Is there a particular place you had in mind when writing this song?

During our corona year-plus, we canceled our plans. We let go of a lot of things. And we found out that everything was OK. The world didn’t end. We found freedom from a lot of things, and didn’t want to forget those lessons when our world started to open up again.

Would you say the sound of your new upcoming album is closer to stuff you’ve done before, or more experimental for your sound?

The next album is written but yet to take shape sonically. I anticipate there will be new directions here, further away than ever from my bluegrass roots. I want to embrace the tones of folk, Americana and new age music and experiment with other instruments and tones.

“Nightingale (соловейко) – Bootleg for Peace” was recently released, with the proceeds going to Guardian of Hope. Has this helped your feelings about the conflict?

I am pleased to have been able to bring my supporters together to help support people in the Ukraine that are suffering from fear, hunger, separation from family and friends, loss of homes and property, and the full toll that war takes on humanity. Together we have raised $2000 already, much more than I could have ever contributed myself. I will bring this song with me on my upcoming tour to Europe ( next week) where the memories of past wars are much more deeply ingrained. I pray for peace, de-escalation and resolution.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your audience directly in these times?

You are not alone.

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