Blessed with a whip smart and subtly emotive lyricism, a deadly deadpan delivery and some wonky left-handed guitar stylings, Australia’s Courtney Barnett has been crushing it for 10 years, what with her debut EP, “I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris,” dropping in 2012.
Since that time, she’s released “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas” in 2013, along with full-lengths, “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” (2015), “Tell Me How You Really Feel” (2018) and last year’s psyche-searching schematic for self-discovery, “Things Take Time, Take Time.” All are winning, witty and rocking. But, as far as her relationship to Philly goes – one she’ll surely exploit at The Met Philadelphia on Friday, Feb. 4 – Barnett will always be tied to this area due to her 2017 duets album with local guitar hero/Neil Young sound-a-like Kurt Vile and Lotta Sea Lice.
Back in 2017, Barnett told me of her process with, and proximity to Philly’s Vile, with: “I think we’re both a little bit obsessive. I recognize something weird and dark in him…. I think it changes from day to day with us. I think I might be more plan-y, worry-y and plan ahead-y. Then again, I leave everything to the last minute, so it’s backwards straight up. We do the same thing on different days.” (Vile did happen to mention of Barnett that he “definitely wanted to write about things I thought she might sing about. Or the opposite. Like she cares about the environment, and I do not. Stuff like that. I’m totally kidding,” and that “She’s killing it,” along with complimenting her shaggy hair and shirts.)
Moving forward to the present day, and in consideration of her most recent album, “Things Take Time, Take Time,” Barnett was less jokey than she had been when talking about her pal Vile. From the stages of KEXP Studios in Seattle, where she debuted several fresh tracks in November 2021, she was more to the point on the subject of her muses and her music.
“For this album, I guess I wrote a lot of it on an acoustic guitar. I think it was just a little bit of experimentation like when we went into the studio,” Barnett told the crowd gathered at KEXP. “I feel myself on guitar going to a lot of the same kind of patterns and tricks and so I would try to like put the guitar down for a whole song and like sit — we had a nice little Wurlitzer in the studio, you know — and just try to approach the song from a different angle to see how it might influence the song.”
As her own new album is ruminative and self-exploratory in all the right ways, it only makes sense that her next move is a new documentary to be released this year. Entitled “Anonymous Club” and shot during the world tour for her 2018 LB, “Tell Me How Your Really Feel,” the documentary captures Barnett’s literal and figurative voice captured, off the cuff on an old school Dictaphone as an audio diary with behind-the-scenes footage and on-stage moments shot on 16mm film. For an artist who guilessly wears her heart on her sleeve while delivering sharp prose in that terse, beloved deadpan of hers, the only thing worth seeing more than a Barnett in concert this week is her autobiographical documentary when it drops.