29196 130Th St NE
Kendra Morgan Jensen
A modern duo rooted in the old-school twang of the country singers, outlaws, and roots-rockers who came before them, the Jensen Sisters are torchbearers of a sound they proudly call "new wave retro country." It's a timeless sound built for honky-tonks, highways, and all places in between, and it's taken the harmony-singing siblings from their small hometown of Goodridge, Minnesota — population: 132 — to stages across the Midwest. Armed with original songs that navigate the ins and outs of new love, old habits, and the uneasy tug-of-war between the lure of the open road and the comforts of home, Kendra and Kansas Jensen have built their audience song-by-song, show-by-show, story-by-story. They begin a new chapter of that story with Yellow Frames, a debut album that arrives on the heels of the duo being crowned "New Artist of the Year” at the 2020 Midwest CMAs. Born three years apart and raised in northern Minnesota, Kendra and Kansas began singing together in 2015, when a high-school talent showcase gave the sisters a chance to swap harmonies during a cover of Waylon Jennings' "Good Hearted Woman." The chemistry was immediate. Discovering a unique sound anchored by Kansas' lead vocals, Kendra's self-taught guitar skills, and the pair's interlocked "blood harmonies," they began writing their own songs and playing a steady stream of shows, quickly graduating from local church events and regional festivals to bucket-list venues like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN. As their recognition grew, the Jensens refused to chase after the fleeting trends of country-pop, sticking instead to a more vintage-leaning brand of country music that felt as raw and as natural as their small-town roots. Those Minnesotan roots play an integral role in Yellow Frames. Written while touring across Middle America in support of their 2019 EP, Highway Hippie, the album finds the Jensen Sisters in personal and physical transit, singing songs that nod to the siblings' past even as they chase down a bigger, brighter future. "Time don't wait, so why should you?" they sing during "Don't Wait," a seize-the-day ballad that showcases not only the swoon of the pair's entwined voices, but the scope of their ambitions, too. "On the Fringe" echoes a similar sentiment, with the Jensen Sisters doubling down on everything that sets them apart from the pack. At 17 and 20 years old, they're two of the youngest songwriters in the business — yet Yellow Frames finds them self-assured and confident, carving out a musical identity that rests somewhere between the trend-free traditionalism of Chris Stapleton, the rootsy stomp of Americana, and the far fringes of contemporary country. Speaking of fringe, the Jensen Sisters have also expanded their unique reach into the worlds of fashion and broadcast radio. In 2018, Kendra and Kansas launched a curated clothing line with Simply Boutique, a Minnesota-based fashion store. In 2020, they celebrated the three-year anniversary of their Gypsy Outlaw Radio Show, a weekly FM broadcast that finds the sisters performing original songs, curating their own playlists, and interviewing fellow musicians like Diamond Rio and Brent Cobb. "If we're not playing, we're listening to music," says Kendra. "We're so lucky that it's become a part of our job. On the show, we play outlaw artists, Americana, and classic country — all the good stuff, really." And despite their business licenses, the sisters are still students. While recording Highway Hippie — a six-song EP whose pre-sales helped push the Jensen Sisters toward the top of the iTunes charts, where Highway Hippie peaked as the tenth most-preordered country record at the time — Kendra completed her high-school exams in the studio. The two have been balancing coursework and tour commitments ever since, juggling the demands of their fast-moving career with academics, home life, and the coming-of-age rush of late adolescence. Yellow Frames is the soundtrack to that journey, with songs that mix together the imaginative storytelling of "Matches" ("it's a cautionary tale about what can happen when inflamed egos meet each other," Kansas says of the Marty Robbins-influenced cowboy song, which details a gun battle in the Wild West), hometown salutes like "The Marshall County Incident" (a cinematic country-rocker about Minnesota’s most infamous UFO encounter), family tributes ("All the Way Through," a nod to their parents' romance), and a big dose of autobiography. Produced by Jay Ernest Kalk, Jonathon TeBeest, and Bronson Bergeson, Yellow Frames is the sisters' view of the world, with Kansas and Kendra offering their listeners a peek through their own Jensen-colored glasses. "With Highway Hippie, we gained a lot of confidence" says Kendra. "That confidence really translates into a song — and an album — like 'Yellow Frames.' It's about having a bright outlook on life, and seeing things through a positive lens. We've turned it into a personal anthem. When you live in an isolated part of the country, no matter how much you love your home, it can be difficult to dig your way out. But we've found that you can do both things at once — you can have your normal hometown life, and you can chase down a dream, too. You can do it all. Yellow Frames is a reminder of that for us."
The Jensen Sisters