Lonestar is the second EP from Queensland singer-songwriter Hayley Marsten and by her own reckoning it is quite a different work to the first. Marsten has a wonderful, rich, nuanced voice and a great sense of pace in her lyrics. There’s an art to how to tell a story in a form as short as a song – what to reveal and when – and Marsten doesn’t rush what she’s doing. That sense of ease in the singing and storytelling automatically puts listeners at ease: if you don’t feel like the artist has anything to prove, you know that they’re not asking anything of you other than to listen.
The title song is about being left ‘in a lonestar state’ after the end of a relationship, and while it could be about wallowing in an ending, Marsten sounds almost defiant, just as she does on the first track, ‘Second Fiddle’. The six tracks are a balance of ballad and nicely uptempo; there’s the odd love song (‘Cash’ and ‘Until You’) but Marsten avoids the saccharine, swelling chorus and instead opts for genuine sweetness.
I have only one complaint about this EP: that there isn’t more of it. In some ways these six songs sound like half of an album – or maybe I just want them to be. Instead I’ll take them as evidence that Marsten easily has an album in her, and hopefully not too far away. She’s a fantastic emerging talent in Australian country music with the right talent, pedigree and drive behind her – and the big audiences can’t be too far away.
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