Haley Johnsen Releases Indie-pop Album ‘GONER’

Haley Johnsen‘s latest twelve-track album, named “Goner,” is about “the continual tug between self-doubt and confidence. Fear and faith. The desire to be PRESENT. To be thankful for who I am and where I am. Not worrying about the past or the future, or getting caught up in the urge to always WANT rather than just BE,” she admits.

Haley is a Portland, Oregon-born musician with a talent for genre-bending and a hard-earned professional path all her own. Her major influences are Brandi Carlile, Grace Potter, Eva Cassidy, and Bonnie Raitt, and her majestic vocals, contemplative poetry, and cross-pollinated style of indie-pop and melancholy folk-rock music. 

Her genuine composition paired with her singing abilities is guaranteed to elicit an emotional response, whether her songs reflect on the pangs of self-doubt, the joy that may accompany nostalgia, or simply attempting to keep afloat in difficult circumstances. “I want my music to encourage people to push through their challenges and continue to have hope and belief in themselves and their authenticity,” she says.

This artist learnt to be a daredevil and move outside her comfort zone as a competitive gymnast growing up. This shaped Haley’s musical trajectory by encouraging the prolific musician to take innovative and surprising musically risks at a young age. She created over 200 songs in her parents’ back shed over three years, with the most memorable tracks being included on her debut EP, Through the Blue, which was published in 2015. In 2017, she released her second EP, When You Lit The Sky, along with a few songs and nationwide tours. 

In the middle of an existential crisis, she wrote her 2021 single “Goner” in a bathtub in a vintage trailer. “It grew to be about the romanization of nostalgia; the desire for what once was our youth and also the fear of mortality,” the composer explains. It’s about my internal fight to be present and at peace with who I am now and where I am now, and to recognise that my youthful self is still very much alive in me. It serves as a reminder that I don’t have to be fearful or uneasy about where I am in life.” “Goner,” a sun-drenched sad fantasy, has honey-dipped vocals, breezy guitars, and sweeping 70s-inspired folk-rock soundscapes.

With her release, “Higher” Haley Johnsen explores “not giving up on yourself. It’s that feeling of knowing that no matter what, you’re going to continue growing, continue dreaming and that in itself is the greatest high. Knowing that you’ve built that trust within yourself to keep going even when life has worn you down,” she confides. “Higher,” with its rousing melodic hook, symphonic percussion, and dreamy slide guitar, is the ideal song of self-love.

Haley Johnsen’s latest single “Common Ground”, “was written during the Summer of 2020, which felt like the precipice of an even deeper divide being carved between our country. Circumstances of the pandemic lead us to be more reliable to our devices, more obsessed with the news, and more at odds with our family and friends who had differing views. I wrote this song about my own sadness and frustration with the reality of this political landscape. How taking a stand on something I believed in only furthered the divide between the ones I loved. This song is a desperate plea asking society, are we ok with this? Are we capable of coming together and finding common ground, or is it too late?” 

“Goner” is quirky, dramatic, delicate, melancholy, eclectic, and upbeat. Similar to Haley Johnsen herself.

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Words by Izabel Rose