Category: hayley marsten

Hayley Marsten heads for TCMF with a Spectacular nomination

hayley_hq_reedit (22 of 72).jpgHayley Marsten is a singer-songwriter from Gladstone in Queensland who has been steadily building a fan base – and a reputation as a writer and performer of great country songs – through the release of singles and EPs. Last year she recorded and released her debut album, Spectacular Heartbreak, which has been nominated for a Golden Guitar for Alt Country Album of the Year. Attending the awards on Saturday 25 January will be one of Marsten’s many appearances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which include:

Friday 17 January – The Albert Hotel (5 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
Saturday 18 January – Capitol Theatre (8 p.m. – 10 p.m.)
Sunday 19 January – Tudor Hotel ‘Write Like a Girl’ showcase (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
Sunday 19 January – The Albert Hotel (w/ Melody Moko – 5 p.m.)
Monday 20 January – Fanzone (3 p.m.)
Wednesday 22 January – The Dag Sheep Station (11 a.m. – 2.30 p.m.)
Friday 24 January – Tudor Hotel ‘Write Like a Girl’ showcase (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
Friday 24 January – The Pub (w/ The Buckleys – 5 p.m.)
Friday 24 January – The Press (7 p.m.)

‘It feels really special,’ says Marsten of the nomination, ‘and I can finally not feel like I’m a complete outsider in the country music industry. It feels a little bit like, “Hey, we like what you do.” And I feel like less like I don’t belong in a room with all the industry people now. It feels nice to be getting a pat on the back for all your hard work.’

Fans of Marsten’s will probably not think of her as being outside the country music tent – she is steeped in the country music lineage, drawing on the genre’s musical and storytelling traditions, offering songs and stories that appeal to all ages. Of course, they are offered in Marsten’s style and with her perspective on life, which is what makes them different and interesting. It’s just that, as Marsten says, ‘every artist suffers from self-doubt and I am a huge self-doubter, and the Golden Guitar nomination put that at ease – at least for a little while. I’m sure I’ll start it back up when I start a new album and just question everything. But I’m very proud that my first album is an album of the year finalist.’

Continue reading “Hayley Marsten heads for TCMF with a Spectacular nomination”

Album review: Spectacular Heartbreak by Hayley Marsten

HM_SH_1500px.jpgQueensland singer-songwriter Hayley Marsten has been releasing music since 2015. She started with singles, and with them established her country music lineage as well as her songwriting skills. From the start she’s had a particular way with words – an ability to find a different angle on a story or a turn of phrase that is memorable; she’s also not afraid to be funny. For these reasons she is reminiscent of – but quite different to – Beccy Cole and Fanny Lumsden, two artists who are in themselves not at all similar but who are both steeped in country music and able to find their own ways of expressing that heritage while appealing to contemporary audiences.

In 2017 Marsten released the EP Lonestar, which offered six songs’ worth of proof – if more was needed – that she was creating a distinct identity within country music, building on the pillars of songwriting, singing and performance that were apparent from the start.

It’s taken four years since those first singles for Marsten to release her debut album, Spectacular Heartbreak, and no doubt she’s had to be patient in that time. It must be tempting to release an album as soon as you have the songs – and no doubt she had them. But she waited until she had eleven that were just right. The result is an album that is completely satisfying, engrossing, emotional and balanced. From the opening, title track, Marsten sets the tone: the lyrics may be about a ‘spectacular heartbreak’ but this is not the album of a woman who is wallowing. The wink and nod she’s always had in her lyrics are there, as is the door she opens to show that she’s on our side – she’s singing to us, and she’s letting us in on her stories.

Continue reading “Album review: Spectacular Heartbreak by Hayley Marsten”

Video premiere: ‘Red Wine, White Dress’ by Hayley Marsten

redwinewhitedress.pngHayley Marsten is one of the most interesting and exciting Australian country music artists to emerge in recent times. Based in Gladstone, Queensland, Marsten has already established a unique identity as a performer and recording artist. No one else could have come up with the delightful ‘Wendy’, her most recent single, or the bundle of magic that was her EP Lonestar.

‘Wendy’ was written with the brilliant Lyn Bowtell. For her latest single, ‘Red Wine, White Dress’, Marsten has written with the also-brilliant Brad Butcher, who has made several appearances on this site. ‘Red Wine, White Dress’ is taken from Marsten’s forthcoming debut album, Spectacular Heartbreak, which will be released on 30 August. The video makes its debut on this site today (scroll down to view). It was created by Duncan Toombs at The Filmery and shot in Brisbane.

‘Red Wine, White Dress’ reveals yet another dimension to Marsten, and more of her talents. It is now clear that Marsten has the courage to shift her focus lyrically and musically, especially so early in her recording career, when it must be tempting to keep doing the same things she already does so well. She also has the skill and commitment to pull it off. Part of that skill is choosing the right collaborators, both in Butcher and in her producer, Matt Fell.

There is absolutely nothing to not love about this song or, frankly, about Marsten. If you’re new to Australian country music, consider her a glorious introduction. She’s also great live, and upcoming gig dates are listed below – right after you watch the video.

Pre-order Spectacular Heartbreak here.


Live shows:

Saturday 24th August – Gladstone Ent. Centre (w/ Troy Cassar-Daley) – Gladstone, QLD
Friday 30th August – The Zoo – Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 31st August – Crow Street Creative – Gladstone, QLD
Thursday 5th September – Oodies Cafe – Bundaberg, QLD
Friday 6th September – Captain Cook – 1770, QLD
Saturday 14th September – The Press – Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 15th September – Flow Bar – Old Bar, NSW
Thursday 19th September – Lazybones – Marrickville, NSW
Friday 20th September – Toppy Hall (w/ Fanny Lumsden) – Wyalong, NSW
Saturday 21st September – Palladiam Palace Theatre (w/ Fanny Lumsden) – Morundah, NSW
Sunday 22nd September – Servo Bar – Woollongong, NSW
Saturday 12th October – VDM Fest – Biloela, QLD
Friday 18th October – Apple Cider Shed – Grove, TAS
Saturday 19th October – Royal Oak – Launceston, TAS
Friday 25th October – Springdale Hall (w/ Fanny Lumsden) – Springdale, NSW
Saturday 26th October – Gunbar Hall (w/ Fanny Lumsden) – Gunbar, NSW
Thursday 7th November – Wesley Ann – Melbourne, VIC
Friday 8th November – Bayview Country Art Club – Bittern, VIC
Friday 15th November – Loomberah Hall (w/ Fanny Lumsden) – Loomberah, NSW
Saturday 16th November – Glen Innes Hall (w/ Fanny Lumsden) – Glen Innes, NSW

Find Hayley Marsten’s music at:

Apple Music | Artist’s website | Spotify


Single release: ‘Wendy’ by Hayley Marsten

image003 (2)Queensland singer-songwriter Hayley Marsten released her EP Lonestar in 2017 and revealed herself to be in possession of an abundance of talent and humour, a fantastic singing voice and a hint of quirkiness. All these were evident during the set I saw her play at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival; also clear was the fact that she’s a truly great entertainer.

During that set Marsten played a new song that she said was inspired by her mother – whose name we discovered the first time she sang the chorus. ‘Wendy’ is a tale of heartache told with self-awareness and without self-pity, and includes Marsten’s exhortation to herself to be ‘a little more like Wendy’ – and you should listen to the song to find out what that means. You should also listen to it because Marsten is an emerging artist who should have everyone’s attention.

‘Wendy’ was written with the magnificent Lyn Bowtell; the pair also collaborated on Marsten’s ‘Coming Home’ (from Lonestar), which reached #1 on the Kix Country Chart and #21 on the Australian Country Airplay Charts.

Marsten is currently running a Pozible campaign to fund her debut album – given that these sorts of campaigns are essentially pre-ordering an album, and also given that the high quality of Lonestar and ‘Wendy’ is a good indicator of what to expect on the album, funding this album comes with very little risk. If you’d like to support Marsten’s campaign, go to:

Listen to ‘Wendy’:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

Single release: ‘Money Can’t Buy Class’ by Hayley Marsten

image002Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Queensland singer-songwriter Hayley Marsten about her wonderful EP Lonestar. Marsten has a great country voice, and just the right amount of knowingness and sass to make an enjoyable, memorable country song – as she proves on the new single release from Lonestar, ‘Money Can’t Buy Class’. If you haven’t yet encountered Marsten’s work, consider this your very fine introduction.

Watch the video for ‘Money Can’t Buy Class’ below:

Lonestar is out now.

Apple Music | iTunes

EP review: Lonestar by Hayley Marsten

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.

Find Lonestar on

Interview: Hayley Marsten

In Australian country music, artists can emerge at any age, from sixteen to sixty and beyond. Queensland artist Hayley Marsten happens to be young, but one spin of her second EP, Lonestar, will prove that she has a voice of great depth and wisdom, and songwriting skill that suggests she has been at this gig a while. Ahead of Lonestar‘s release on 9 June, I had the pleasure of talking to Hayley, who will launch the EP in Gladstone, Queensland on 10 June and Brisbane on 14 June. Details on her website.

What – or who – did you grow up listening to?
I had a really eclectic musical upbringing. My parents listened to a lot of really weird stuff. My dad played Johnny Cash on and off but he would play ’80s music – we would listen to Ace of Base – and Mum liked Robbie Williams, so we would play Robbie Williams all the time. I love Robbie as well. So it was really from one extreme to the next. Then when I was in high school I was into emo pop sort of stuff and it wasn’t until I was fifteen that I actually found Taylor Swift and got into country music. So it’s a very large musical upbringing, I think.
Pop is a great grounding, because it’s so much about entertaining your audience, as is country music, and solid song structure is also important in pop. But I’m interested that you came to country via Taylor Swift, because while Taylor comes from Nashville and is obviously knowledgeable about country music, your sound has some more traditional elements than hers. Once you started exploring country music, which artists started to appeal to you?
After I got into it I found Loretta Lynn and I was, like, ‘This is the one.’ So I listened to Loretta a lot. I just like a lot of strong women in country. I really liked Miranda Lambert when I first started listening to country, and I still do. And now I’ve gravitated more into the singer-songwriters like Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves. I’ve always thought that lyrics are very important. I really care about the lyrics, so I think that songs that have real meaning and you can really tell that those people have lived that story, or they’re really good at making you think they have – any song like that is something I love to hear.
That point you make about those artists making you think they’ve lived that story – that requires a lot of energy and effort as well. To take on someone else’s story, you’ve still got to inhabit them.
I think it’s easier for me to sing songs that I’ve written because when you get up, it’s not acting but you still have to sell the song to people and it’s a lot easier when you’ve felt that way and you’ve been through that. And a lot of times country music fans, I think, are really in tune with that, and they’re not dumb – they’ll know that you’re being inauthentic if you’re not singing what’s really in your heart. That’s what’s really special about country music.
I completely agree. This is your second EP coming up – when you recorded your first EP, were there particular influences over the writing or the musical style that were perhaps different to those for your second EP?
When I wrote EvenI was mostly a teenager for that time and I wrote all by myself for all of the five songs. I think I was a little … not immature, but kind of. I hadn’t really done a lot of living and I had lived a sheltered kind of little life. And I was still finding my way with what I wanted to sound like and what I wanted to say. With this EP I feel so confident and I just know that this is who I want to be and what I want to say and how I want to sound, and everything is exactly how I want it to be. I’ve had a lot of time to grow. I’ve lived out of home – I’m from Gladstone in central Queensland originally but I have just finished a university degree, so I lived out of home in Brisbane for three and a half years. I’d never been away from my mum before – I’m an only child. So I had a general university experience, which I think is pretty well summed up in the first single. Lonestar really feels like the start of something special to me. I’m so proud of it, I can’t wait for people to hear it. It feels like I’ve been working on it for a million years and I can’t wait for it to be out.
When did you start writing it and when did the recording happen?
I started writing for it a month after the last EP came out and I knew that it was going to be called Lonestarafter I wrote the title track, and everything else fell around that. Then we recorded it in December last year, with Matt Fell, and it was great.
I imagine once you’ve got those songs in the can you would be keen to get them out. So have you had to learn patience with that part of the process?
Yes. Once I came back and they were all done, I thought, This sounds so good. I just want people to know that I’m good [laughs]. I just kept thinking, If we do it properly and we wait, it will make a bigger splash and I want as many people as possible to hear this music, so if I have to wait six months for it to come out and be done right then it’s okay. I’d rather do it right than do it fast.
A good policy. There are several different moods on this EP but I did detect on some of the songs an almost jaunty tone – it sounded to me like you were upbeat going into the studio. Was that how you were feeling?
When we first got to Sydney I was kind of freaking out a bit because we hadn’t picked the songs. I had a pool of them and Matt hadn’t said, ‘Yep, these are definitely the ones’. So I was a bit anxious at first but once we got in the studio … The guys who played on this record are amazing. Once it started happening, how could you not be overjoyed? I had some of the greatest players in Australia on this record and Matt is amazing, so by the time we came around to recording the vocals the songs already sounded so happy – I was very, very excited to be finally recording this music.
Is it weird to hand over the song selection to someone else when all those songs are quite close to you, or do you actually find it a relief that someone else does that part of it?
It was kind of scary because when I had started writing this EP and I’d got most of the songs together, I was really proud of them and I knew that they were really good. I felt like it was my baby and I thought, I don’t want to take this to the wrong person – it has to be the perfect person to make this right. So it was a bit scary at that point but once I picked Matt it all fell into place and it wasn’t scary because I knew he was going to do a great job. I trusted him enough to know that it wasn’t going to be like a scary thing, a daunting thing, to hand these songs over to him because I knew that he was just absolutely going to kill it – and he did.
You mentioned people who played on the record – I don’t have any information about who played on it, so if you could run me through that …
Glen Hannah played guitars and Shane Nicholson played many guitars, mandolins … Did he play banjo? No, I don’t think so. Josh Schuberth played drums and Matt played pretty much every instrument you could think of that is on there. And I just sang – ‘I’m going to leave it to the professionals. They can play everything better than I can.’ [Laughs] It was pretty amazing to be in a studio with those guys.
Especially because Shane and Glen are producers themselves – I would think it adds an interesting aspect to their performances on other people’s records. In this country there’s a good, solid pool of really professional producers and musicians like Matt, Shane and Glen, and the fact that you can have them playing on your record with that producer’s ear, it’s great.
Yes, and to have them say, ‘This is a really great song – I really like this line’ or whatever. Obviously any time anyone says something complimentary about my music I really appreciate it, but from those guys, who play on hundreds of records every year, they know their shit so [I thought], This is gonna be good. They didn’t have to say anything, they’re getting paid to be there, so for them to actually say, ‘I really like this song’ or ‘This song’s really special’, that’s a huge compliment to me.
You said you wrote the first EP on your own, but on this EP you had some co-writers, and some very good ones. You wrote one song with Lyn Bowtell and I’m wondering how that relationship came about.
Lyn and I had known each other a little bit because I was at the Academy of Country Music last year, and then I went to the Dag Songwriting Retreat last year in July, and we got paired up. I knew I wanted to finish this particular song and I just was praying that Lyn Bowtell was going to pick my name out of the hat, and she did. Because it was such a personal song, I really wanted it to be someone I already had a relationship with, and I don’t think I could have gotten anybody better than Lyn to write this song with. Now she’s my vocal coach and we catch up all the time, but she’s more like my life coach sometimes. I say, ‘Lyn, what do I do?’ and she says, ‘Honey, listen – this, this, this. You’ve got this – don’t freak out.’
What an extraordinary person to have as your vocal coach, because she’s such a great singer. But when you were finding your singing voice, sometimes you have to move around a bit to find the right tone – did it take you a while to find your singing voice? Because it’s a very strong, confident sound.
I think the voice that you hear on this EP did not come about when I first started singing. I don’t know if I was just an arrogant child or what, but I always knew that I could sing and that I was a good singer [laughs]. Only-child syndrome or something. I always knew I could sing but I never did anything about it. But in high school I did a lot of musical theatre and stage musicals, so I think I just slowly, over time, found what my voice is, and I think I’m still finding what it can do. I was in choirs and stuff and they’d say, ‘You can’t sing high’ – ‘Okay, obviously I can’t do that.’ Meeting Lyn has been a big turning point to bring out the voice I’ve got on the EP because she said, ‘Of course you can do that – you’ve got a voice in there that you’re just too afraid to use. You don’t know how to use it properly.’ Everything seems like a big change on this EP because I finally know what my voice can do and how I can write and that sort of thing, so it’s a big step forward.
And it’s such an intriguing notion, to have a voice in there that you’re almost too afraid to bring out. Like something’s trapped deep inside. But it would also be quite scary to confront that idea, first of all, and then to do the work to bring it out.
Yes – I think it was because I had been told that I couldn’t do it and then I thought okay, obviously I can’t, and then I never tried, because I thought, If I try to sing this really high note I’ll stuff it up. So I think it’s a confidence thing, and Lonestar, the whole EP, is about regaining your confidence and regaining your inner strength. So to be going on that separate journey to find out how to sing again is a funny sort of partnership, I suppose.
You mentioned finding your confidence, and in the title song there’s the line, ‘You said I’d never make it to the top/Girls like me they always stop’, and it sounds like someone said that to you at some stage. The girl you were at the time that was said to you – how is she different to the girl you are now?
I’ve spent a lot of time in my home town recently and I was thinking about when I was in high school and when I first moved away, I was really unsure of myself and unsure of what my future would be like. I didn’t know how to make what I wanted to happen happen. And I had a lot of time around me at the time – well, one particular person at the time, I suppose – who wasn’t really supportive and just was really an energy suck on my whole personality and life, and just moving past that and not letting dull your sparkle, and not letting people come and say, ‘You can’t do that’. You don’t know me – I can do whatever I want. I think I just have a bit more confidence in myself and that I could do this and I am capable. Just claiming back my own self-confidence.
It can be so much easier for other people to say, ‘You can’t do that’, than to try themselves.
I think also a lot of people have tall poppy syndrome, and if you’re doing well, instead of trying to help you do better they want to say, ‘She’s only getting this because of this, that and the other’, and maybe at the time, when Even came out, I might have believed people who said that to me because I didn’t really know myself if I could do it, and now I think this new era of me, I don’t really want to let anybody talk to me like that, and I certainly won’t believe them if they do anyway.
Therefore you are in an excellent position at quite a young stage in life, because it can take people decades to get to that point.
Well, thank you, yes – it feels a lot better to be surrounded by people who are trying to push you up instead of bring you down.          
I’m just thinking about those songs that you took to the studio that didn’t make it onto the EP – are they tucked away for future use or are they gone?
They might be for future use. I write all the time, so I have a giant pool of songs for every time I want to record – well, only two times, really. I’m not going to say I’ll never record them – I’m hoping that I might just out-write myself and there will be songs that are so much better than those that they won’t make it on to there but we’ll see what happens. There are some songs that I think, I’m still going to play live, just because they are really fun, so if people really like them they will get recorded, because you’ve got to give the people what they want [laughs].
Well, that’s right – a very good principle of entertainment. And another of your co-writers was Aleyce Simmonds. After doing some co-writing on this EP, do you prefer it or do you prefer the balance of some on your own and some with others?
I like the balance, I think. Aleyce and I wrote ‘Cash’ together, Lyn and I wrote ‘Coming Home’, and Allan Caswell and I wrote ‘Second Fiddle’. Aleyce was the first co-write I’ve ever done and I was really nervous, because when I’m writing songs it’s just a weird process for everyone, I think, and sometimes to share it with other people can get a bit daunting. She was lovely and we had a great time together and wrote a really great song, so I’m really glad that she was my first co-write and it wasn’t some terrible train wreck [laughs]. I really like having the balance, and also sometimes I think when you have a really tough song that you know it’s good, it’s really nice to be with somebody else who has a really fresh mindset. I’ve tried to write songs before that I know are good but my brain just … you know you’re hitting a brick wall, and I think it’s really special because music is one of the few artistic platforms that you can collaborate on, and there’s something really special about sharing stuff with other people and having them understand you, and building friendships from that is really cool.
You have a couple of shows coming up but are you looking to tour – looking ahead to Tamworth?
I am in the middle of planning a little house concert tour. We’re still taking applications, just to spread out a bit more. But I’m going on the road with my friend Ana Georgia – she’s just about to release her first EP. I’m just trying to get through the craziness of the launch shows in Gladstone and Brisbane, because they’ve been taking up a lot of my time lately, so hopefully as soon as they’re over – and hopefully they’ll be a huge success as well – we’ll be able to organise that tour and get out and meet a heap of people and share this music with everyone.
Find Lonestar on