Hayley Marsten’s sharp pen and open heart led to the creation of her stellar debut, ‘Spectacular Heartbreak’ in 2019. The album was crowdfunded, nominated for Alt Country Album of the Year at the Golden Guitars, Country Work of the Year at the Queensland Music Awards in 2020 and was streamed over half a million times in the first year. Hayley leads with her heart and her humor both on and off stage which won her fans on her 2019 album tour and wowed the crowds of Fanny Lumsden, Troy Cassar Daley and Imogen Clark.
The singles from her album have been added to Country stations across the country, played live on ABC National Breakfast, added to the ABC Local National playlist, Spotify curated playlists and played on commercial radio. Last year, she headlined a tour across Queensland, supported by Chloe Styler to multiple ‘Covid sell out’ shows.
n 2020 she stepped in the role of producer and director for her music videos of the title track and the poignant, 'Pretty' met with huge praise from industry and fans alike. In early 2021, Hayley re-recorded and re-imagined four songs from her debut album on piano, for an EP aptly named, ‘Spectacular’. A grand and spectacular celebration and reflection on the songs almost 3 years on. ‘I didn’t get to fully celebrate the success and joy this album brought me last year so this EP was a way for me to look back at what I created and share that pride with the supporters who helped me make it possible’. Spectacular is out now on all digital platforms.
In the second half of 2019 Queenslander Hayley Marsten released Spectacular Heartbreak, a debut album that had a pedigree of singles and the EPs Even and Lonestar behind it. Marsten had done her apprenticeship with those early releases, although they were firmly not the works of a beginner, and 'Spectacular Heartbreak' was a work that was meaningful and entertaining both lyrically and melodically. It was justifiably nominated for Alt Album of the Year at the 2020 Golden Guitars.
Marsten has now released a four-track EP that contains four songs from that album, presented in a very different way, with only a piano as accompaniment, played by Kieran Stevenson and produced by Dan Sugars. The songs chosen, the album’s title track, ‘Call It a Day’, ‘Red Wine, White Dress’ and ‘Grocery Line’, are from the ‘heartbreak’ part of an album that also included plenty of spectacular sass. Marsten chose these songs because she is now on the other side of the heartbreak that inspired them.
‘Saying goodbye and letting go of things I feel so sentimental about has never been easy for me and this record was no exception,’ she says. ‘It was such a personal album about experiences that left me feeling so fragile and the fact that so many people have let it into their hearts and their lives has me feeling much the same.’
Indeed, there is vulnerability on these recordings, partly because Marsten sounds reflective and, in some cases, resigned, but in a good way, the emotional work she did to bring these songs to life is now done. You can hear goodbye in her voice but also hear that there’s no regret in it.
This is nowhere more clear than on ‘Spectacular Heartbreak’, which in its original version is quite feisty, with Marsten’s emotions still fairly raw. On this new version, when Marsten sings ‘I’m not worth forgetting’ she has the tone of someone who’s actually forgotten about the subject of the song and almost can’t believe that she was worried about him forgetting her. By now she knows that she made an unforgettable album and that’s why she can go back. Simply put, 'Spectacular Heartbreak' was so good that it is worth revisiting, Marsten feels. Another reason is its worth a different interpretation is with Marsten's great voice, presenting it in this way you can hear that clearly.
This is an EP for fans, for sure, but if these four songs are your first introduction to Marsten you will want to seek out everything else that she has available. These songs are rich with stories, with ideas, with Marsten’s inner life, and with risk. Being this open with her audience carried risk and shared her vulnerability. It paid off, and now Marsten is repaying the trust her audience showed by offering this gift of an EP.