Starting over isn’t always easy, yet resisting change is almost always fruitless. Nanna Hilmarsdóttir knew this intuitively when she began to write the songs for her first solo album, How to Start a Garden. In these ethereal yet grounded songs, she sings of being lost and hopeful, remaining calm through apocalypses large and small, with orchestration that feels as organic as a forest while also sculpted and modern.
Few debuts arrive, however, with experience as extensive as Nanna’s. After a childhood in a tiny town in rural Iceland, she spent most of her twenties in recording studios and global tours with her band, Of Monsters and Men, which arrived in 2011 to almost immediate ubiquity as their first album, My Head Is An Animal, topped charts worldwide. Their live prowess landed them headlining festival spots around the world. With three impressive and globally successful albums under their belt, Nanna found herself writing an album she felt needed to be delivered in her very own way. Like most of us, the years since 2020 have necessitated changes both mundane and enormous; like few of us, Nanna, as at home on a festival stage as in a rural cabin, is fluent in polarity.