Photo: Heather Evans Smith

H.C. McEntire confronts her grief on “Rows of Clover”

North Carolina songwriter H.C. McEntire is releasing her new album Every Acre later this month and this week she has given us new single “Rows of Clover”; a stunning reminder of why we should all be excited about it. About the song, she reveals:

“As an artist, if what I’m after is meaning and understanding, then vulnerability is how I find my edges. In my experience, if that pursuit is honest and unfiltered, on some level it will also be uncomfortable. Every Acre encouraged a slow observation of everything around me—great heights and vast depths, immeasurable static, and some fragments still coming into focus.”

“The chorus lyrics in ‘Rows of Clover’ arrived before anything else on this album. They are dark and straightforward, unapologetic—a body in pain, a broken spirit, a tired heart. I needed to acknowledge my grief and depression in an unmistakable way; to name it and know the feeling of it being lifted by my lungs. In contrast, and written much later, the verses offer observations of a more poetic kind, kneeling beside that same garden bed: hunters planting millet and rye; a fawn born in the front yard; sundown through cedars; burn barrels roaring orange; fresh pink ribbons tagging the ridgeline around me. From the center, looking out—I sowed the red clover, to start over again.”

There’s a rustic country tinge to McEntire’s music that fits perfectly in hand with her vivid imagery that is informed by her life growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians. It gives everything she does a lived-in feeling, bringing wisdom to her words even in the case of “Rows of Clover” where she is overwhelmed by the most awful, gut-churning of feelings. She simply admits “It ain’t the easy kind of healing / When you’re down on your knees, clawing at the garden,” and that admission of pure pain and vulnerability – among a series of poetic descriptions of her state – brings us closer to her. As we’re wrapped in the song’s simple piano and guitar, listening to McEntire’s voice and words, the feelings of mortality and sadness are present, but they feel purely human – and that feels enriching.

Listen to “Rows of Clover” below or find it on streamers.

H.C. McEntire’s new album Every Acre is out on January 27 through Merge (pre-order/save). You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.