Written by TJ McGlinchey
Australian singer/songwriter, Courtney Barnett, unveils her third album, Things Take Time, Take Time, via Mom+Pop, out now.
To me, this album feels raw; like she recorded it all on a whim, over one long, productive weekend. Her drawled delivery drips with depression, angst, love, anger, jealousy, acceptance, whimsy, and honesty.
The arrangements are sparse but well-produced. Each track feels like a conversation with some unknown lover on the other side of the line. She laments her lyrics like someone who continues the argument long after the other person has left the room. “And another thing, let me tell you…” (while wagging a disapproving finger in the air). She’s scratching back at someone who cut her deep. She is recovering from lost love. As it goes with any kind of healing, these things take time to fully unfold and reveal whatever life’s lessons you can glean from that experience.
In the video for the opening track, “Rae Street,” she complains about her neighbors and sits on the floor in a small apartment strumming a guitar and singing; when she’s not walking dogs or staring out the window being nosey.
In the second video, for the album’s fourth track, “Before You Gotta Go,“ Barnett seems to be saying an amicable goodbye to a lover while she wanders beaches, forests, and deserts with a microphone, recording nature. She also records a horse, a sea cave, some moss, a few trees, the ocean from a dock, tiny houses, etc. while suggesting that they cut caffeine out of their diet.
The single, “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight,” features Barnett and a three-piece band jamming in the desert and striking moody poses under cactuses, while she opines not getting texted back from her crush.
On the track “A List of Things To Look Forward To,” she sings about waiting for letters while the world burns around her, as she picks up packages from her doorstep filled with pots and pans and recipes with which she makes a tiny birthday cake with three candles. She mails a letter and then gets a guitar in the mail which she opens to find a Fender guitar. She then plays chess by herself and wanders moodily across a hilltop with her new guitar.
I like this album. It’s honest. It rests comfortably between stripped-down instrumentation and smoothed-out production. It must have come out of her brain all at once. It’s like one long diary entry about a few different passionate flings. There are some socially oriented lyrics: “Light a candle for the sufferin’, Send my best wishes with the wind, All our candles, hopes and prayers, Though well-meanin’ they don’t mean a thing Unless we see some change…”
This is then immediately and laconically followed by “I might change my sheets today…”, bringing it immediately back to her mundane self-centered worldview which makes me think this is a heartbreak record.
Don’t get me wrong; there are many legendary heartbreak records; I wrote one myself. This is a great album. I love it for all its quirks and complaints and fantasies and melancholy sadness. However, there are such beautiful lines here including this gem: “Sorry that I’ve been slow, you know it takes a little time for me to show how I really feel, won’t you meet me somewhere in the middle? On our own time zone…” Bravo, Courtney. You did it again. Another fantastic album.
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