Even if you think you don’t know Courtney Barnett, you will know Courtney Barnett. You just don’t know you know her yet.
She ambled onto the UK music scene with no fanfare, but such is her laissez-faire aesthetic. Originally from Australia, she’s been taking over our airwaves slowly but surely since the release of her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit in March last year. Still not sure? We’re not the only advocates. Barnett has toured with Honeyblood and Billy Bragg, plus Jack White’s a fan – he recently produced two tracks with Barnett at his Nashville studios. Rest assured she’s in pretty regal company.
Part of her appeal is her DIY attitude – in fact it was a guerilla marketing campaign – helped along by spontaneous online and social media interest and culminating in an impromptu London busking gig that led to the video for her single ‘Nobody Really Cares if you Don’t go to the Party’. This grassroots attitude coupled with her laid-back attitude have helped Barnett gain global appeal, making it into a number of ‘best album’ lists, from Rolling Stone to The Times.
It’s the idiosyncratic turn of phrase and catchy interludes that mark Barnett as a force to be listened to. Songs such as the 6Music-lauded ‘Depreston’ feature ordinary stories with stinging tails; a couple buying a house in the suburbs wonder what the sad history of the sellers are, but still take time to note that they don’t need to be near coffee shops as they’ve just bought a percolator. Or in ‘Elevator Operator’, a young man skips out on work, perhaps to commit suicide, or perhaps to become an elevator operator.
Barnett’s doing the festival rounds this summer, notably stopping off at Somerset House London in July, where the sprawling grounds of the iconic London landmark works as perfect juxtaposition with Barnett’s unimposing ethos. Catch her there, chill out and let yourself be drawn into her quirky little world.
Courtney Barnett plays Somerset House London on Wed 13 Jul.
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