Rising star singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett recently tore into a few new songs in her hometown of Melbourne, providing a sneak preview to her new album set to release on March 23.
The first time somebody described the music of Courtney Barnett to me, they said that she was like a female Lou Reed. While I understand the sentiment, I can appreciate that her multi-faceted songwriting goes beyond the extent of the Reed comparison and juxtaposes several aspects of rock into a loose package of musical eccentricity. She fluidly transitions between somber songs extenuating lightly strummed chords and painstakingly honest lyrics in a deadpan style to rocking power chords structured like the catchier pop rock end of the riot girl spectrum.
Barnett manages to achieve the daunting task of having a unique sound that also sounds familiar. Listening to one song brings up several similarities to several different artists, and then listening to another song brings up similarities to a whole bunch of other artists all the while maintaining a consistency that derives off of her own seemingly (but probably not) unwitting style.
On March 10, while performing in her hometown of Melbourne, Barnett played some new songs from her debut album that is set to hit stores March 23. Pitchfork covered the show and provided video of two of the songs performed that night via the Australian website The Dwarf.
The first song linked here, “Depreston,” showcases her low-toned voice that reverberates in a sincere and modest matter. The combination of her throaty voice and airy guitar matched with a steady drumbeat is reminiscent of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. The phased out guitar creates a dreamy atmosphere that are even more ironically complicated by the contrasting syncopation of the drums.
She breaks out the Telecaster for the second song linked here, “Pedestrian at Best.” This song is more of an upbeat tempo rocker. The guitar work goes hand in hand with the drum blasts in steady syncopation that echoes Sleater-Kinney in its theory but the light distortion gives her a sound of her own. Vocally, she goes full rocker mode in a Kim Gordon-esque attitude that is further complimented by the aggressiveness of the guitar. The contrast between the two videos provides an appropriate display of the diversity of her album while maintaining thematic elements that stay on par with her style.
The upcoming year should be a breakout for the singer-songwriter as she is set to be one of the featured acts at this year’s SXSW.
“Pedestrian at Best”: