From the very start of her career, Courtney Barnett has never been short on words. And that is fine by us. Since her breakout in 2013 with the clever and amusing “Avant Gardener”, Barnett has become the standard against which all singer-songwriters are measured. She is like a modern-day Dylan, as she’s able to take the most innocuous thing and most mundane event and find a story in it. She did it with The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, the rollicking Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (which was her official debut LP), and “Tell Me How You Really Feel”.
As masterful Barnett is at her craft, her collaboration with Kurt Vile on 2017’s Lotta Sea Lice seemed to take her extraordinary gifts to further heights. Her music became more controlled, focusing on subtle melody shifts to elicit multiple emotions. Barnett’s songwriting, meanwhile, became more outward looking, where she shared her observations regarding the world’s and humanity’s fragility. Like everyone else, she’s evolved, and her first single in two years reveals just how much further she has come. And how much more she’s raised the bar.
“Rae Street” is a jangly folk-rocker that is Vile-esque in its approach but completely Barnett in her songwriting. The song, unsurprisingly, is full of wit and intelligence, as the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter describes the events happening in a neighborhood. Some people live in fear, especially in this pandemic world. “And all eyes on the pavement / I’m not gonna touch ya don’t worry so much about it“, Barnett sings to a passerby. Across the street, though, there is joy and optimism. Through her trademark drawl, she narrates: “The parent teaches the child how to ride the bike wobbles side to side / Two dogs entangle, everybody smiles.”
And everybody who listens to this song will be left smiling that some normalcy is returning. That Courtney Barnett has returned.
Things Take Time, Take Time is out November 12th. Milk! Records (AU/NZ), Mom+Pop Music (NA), and Marathon Artists (UK/EUR) will release it. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here. Alternatively, head directly to Bandcamp to get it.
Barnett is embarking on a big tour. She’s currently in New Zealand, and she’ll be making her way to North America in the fall and winter of 2021/22. Dates and information are available on her website.
Cover photo by Mia Maia McDonald.
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