by Joel Lesher; photo by Mia Mala McDonald
Courtney Barnett got heads turning with her debut EP, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris, made available to audiences in 2012. That attention turned to praise following her first album, titled Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Now she is once again planning to impress with her third studio album, Things Take Time, Take Time. Barnett initially excited audiences with her clever lyrics and nonchalant singing style which both appear to be in full swing for her new music. She has voiced three singles prior to the album to keep listeners entertained: "Rae Street," “Before You Gotta Go,” and “Write a List of Things to Look Forward To.” The Australian recorded her upcoming album in Melbourne and Sydney with the help of producer/drummer Stella Mezgawa. Together they hope to reach the critical acclaim Barnett has received following previous projects: she was nominated for best new artist at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, as well as nominated for the Brit Award for International Female Solo Artists in 2016.
The first single, “Rae Street,” was released on July 7th with an accompanying music video. A very basic guitar, bass, and drum accompaniment match well with her despondent vocals and bittersweet subject matter. Within the song, she explores her lust for change in a humdrum suburb. This is evident both in the lyrics—as the softened instruments accentuate her vocals—and the video, which explores this subject matter in her typically abnormal manner, copies of herself playing the role of suburban inhabitants. Despite the song’s content, it isn’t dejected; Barnett sings with a twinge of liveliness as the lyrics “Time is money, and money is no man’s friend” lead the chorus in a catchy and thought-provoking tune.
“Before You Gotta Go'' is sure to be your next earworm. Unlike her first single, this track puts the instruments on display with a vibey reverb guitar that sounds like it belongs on stage at Woodstock. Barnett’s vocals are underscored and will carry the audience away into her lover’s quarrel that simply isn’t worth the effort. She explains, “If somethin' were to happen, my dear, I wouldn't want the last words you hear, to be unkind, to be unkind.” In seemingly no connection to the lyrics, the “Before You Gotta Go'' music video has Barnett escaping into unknown lands, traversing beautiful environments, and recording sounds for… something, we don’t know. It’s a gleeful scene in contrast to the song’s topic.
Her latest single, “Write A List of Things to Look Forward To,” explores the darkness that is always present both within us and society but alleviated with the help of friendship. Her dispassionate style is again both mesmerizing and aurally appealing. She describes a feeling of hopelessness, but in doing so she finds solace in the sporadic and small victories in life enabled by the support of friends. Barnett has never been one to shy away from deeper topics. Her accompanying music video sees her receive packages at the doorstep which she proceeds to open and then use around the house. Likely alluding to these packages as things to look forward to.
These three singles signal her desire to continue making distinct songs that captivate listeners; the album is certain to follow a related path. Barnet recently described the upcoming project as “some sort of joy and gratitude, out of some sort of pain and sadness,” a feeling most of us can sympathize with. She will begin a North American Tour this fall and continue traveling through early 2022.