Precocious singer-songwriter Una Jensen brings a ‘Song’ to Maryville
By Steve Wildsmith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Growing up in Massachusetts, Una Jensen learned to play the guitar at 6; two years later, she tried her hand at writing her first song.
“Impossible Person” was the title, she remembered during a phone interview this week with The Daily Times. And while she doesn’t remember the details behind the tune other than it was about a superhero, she does remember the words.
“Do you want me to sing it for you?” she says chirpily.
That she remembers the words is no surprise; after all, that was only seven years ago. (She turns 16 in September.) What is surprising is just how much she’s matured as both a songwriter and a musician during that time. She’s currently on her first national tour, which will bring her to Vienna Coffeehouse in Maryville on Friday night; her debut single, “Let’s Write a Song,” was released to iTunes this week; and her new album, “This Is How You Play the Game,” will be out Tuesday.
It’s been a whirlwind week, to say the least, but Jensen knew this is what she wanted even back in her days of writing about superheroes.
“It was a dream early on, something that I really wanted to do,” she said. “I loved doing it, so I kept doing it, and here we are.”
Her first efforts were composed and played in her room; she drew inspiration from the songs of her parents — everything from Alanis Morissette to the Foo Fighters — and when she tried out her early tunes on her dad, he liked them enough to record them.
Eventually, she started performing at talent competitions, and once she took the stage in front of an audience, she said, she was hooked.
“I realized how much I loved performing in front of people, and that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life,” she said. “For one of the competitions, my dad put together a band, so I did a live performance with a full band. I remember thinking, ‘This is awesome! I want to do this forever!’”
“Let’s Write a Song” is a full-on rock ‘n’ roll experience, equal owing as much to Paramore as it does to young female artists popular on the radio these days. Another thing that sets Jensen apart from those early ladies is her ability to command a room with just her voice and an acoustic guitar.
“The whole acoustic thing is very intimate, because it makes it seem like you’re really engaged with the crowd more,” she said. “With a full band, I can jump up and down and be super, super-energetic.”
Her set will include originals, some covers and even some new songs not on a demo she’ll have for sale at the Vienna show. Her mom and dad will be on hand, and more than likely, she’ll play the two songs that are favorites to her — “I Can Tell,” written when she was 12 about her first boyfriend, and “Live,” about a cousin who battled pancreatic cancer.
“I love hearing people who say that one of my songs really spoke to them,” Jensen said. “It’s definitely why I do this. It’s just the best when they understand what I was saying when I wrote it and that it helps them.”