shares stories of Past Tense and Present Peace
AN ABUSIVE relationship, the tragic loss of her father and a sense of coming home has resulted in an EP that heralds singer-songwriter Hayley Jensen as a new force in Australian country music. Past Tense and Present Peace sees Jensen inviting listeners into dark moments of her past through to the sunshine of her present.
Released on February 3, Past Tense and Present Peace’s title comes from a “reflection of the stories in the songs”. “It’s a very personal collection of songs that are really coming from a very private place,” she said. “As a songwriter, you do your own therapy through songwriting, but then everyone (listeners) has to interpret it at the other end. Sometimes things are full truth, but others are part truth for the sake of the song.”
The singer-songwriter said she hoped she could help others who felt they were trapped in a relationship, a job or way of life they felt they couldn’t escape.
“I sat down at my keyboard to write and Young Years came out,” Jensen said. “I thought ‘oh my god, what am I going to do with this song because it’s so full-on’. I played it to a few people and they said I had to release it because every good song has come from an authentic, real place. It is just a story that needs to be told, not just for me, but for people in that situation and might empower people to get out.”
Jensen said she did not want to condemn anyone through the song, but for listeners to relate their own experiences to it and said she’d had men in tears after they related it to years they gave the army, or years they gave to a job they felt trapped in.
The 34-year-old singer-songwriter, who also manages to hold down a demanding day job, is now in a much safer and happier place, having got engaged to her partner, Kris, in October. The final songs on the EP reflect her current situation, along with a tribute to her father who died last year.
Jensen is no stranger to the music business, having finished fourth in the second season of Australian Idol in 2004 and was part of The Voice in 2014. She has made the most of these opportunities, including the chance to play for Australian and allied troops overseas, and said they were some of the most incredible moments of her life.
“Idol propelled me into knowing that this is all I want to do with my life,” Jensen said. “Songwriting and performing are like breathing to me.”
The singer also got the opportunity to perform for Australian and allied troops overseas for Christmas and New Year 2005-2006 with Beccy Cole and Angry Anderson.
“It was the most incredible experience and completely life-changing – I’ve never felt so valued as a performer and an artist,” the singer-songwriter said.
Jensen said both Idol and The Voice gave her the chance to get her music out to many thousands and millions of people and the chance to meet members of the industry. It also made her mind up that country was where her music fit. “That’s just who I am,” she said. “I grew up in the country listening to the country rock music that my parents listened to. When I’ve tried different things I’ve never really felt at home other than being in country music, but the other experiences gave me the confidence and helped my stagecraft. Writing my own songs steered me in the direction I belong and where I feel at home – I’ve never felt so welcomed than in country music.”
Growing up on a property at Wamboin, near Bungendore, the artist has been steadily making her mark, handpicked in the top 10 of Toyota Star Maker in 2016 and taking home the Rising Star accolade at the Southern Stars Awards in Mildura last year with the final track of this EP, The One.
Jensen will showcase the tracks off Past Tense and Present Peace throughout her busy Tamworth Country Music Festival schedule. The highlight for her will be hosting a gala dinner at Tamworth Golf Club on Tuesday, January 24 bringing plenty of glamour to the festival line-up.