“Sweetheart, I ain’t playing second fiddle.”

It’s the opening declaration on Hayley Marsten’s brassy second release, and a statement you’d be a fool to doubt. The Gladstone songwriter and purveyor of bold country music is older and wiser on Lonestar, new second album that is at once playful and deeply personal.

The marriage of feisty tracks like opener ‘Second Fiddle’ and the stark reflection of ‘Coming Home’, proves a potent combination.

Life experience has ultimately imbued this collection of songs with a more intimate yet worldly view, with the support of fellow songwriters giving her the confidence to be mercilessly direct. There’s no missing the emotional gut punch of ‘Coming Home’, a steely depiction of her childhood in a broken home. At the other end of the spectrum is ‘Cash’, a romantic pop song that features Marsten’s finest wordplay. Centred on the love affair between Johnny Cash and June Carter, the irresistible tune uses that near mythological partnership to draw a sentimental parallel. Lonestar suggests a bright future for this songwriter, both emotionally and professionally. ‘Money Can’t Buy Class’ exhibits a confident woman who isn’t going to take crap from anyone.