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Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time (Album Review)

Monday, 15 November 2021 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Mia Mala McDonald

Courtney Barnett’s third solo album ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’ represents another meeting of kindred spirits. The Australian songwriter’s creative ties with Kurt Vile run deep, of course, but following the release of their joint album ‘Lotta Sea Lice’ in 2017, she has now turned to Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa as producer and collaborator.

Barnett and Vile’s tag team was as natural as could be: the two share a deadpan, low slung vocal style and affinity for lingering guitar hooks, along with an uncanny knack for crafting compelling story-based songs with comparative ease. Barnett certainly hasn’t misplaced those skills here, but she does push into fresh territory as Mozgawa wears multiple hats as a foil.

Recorded in 2020, largely through lockdown, the tracks here often show their origins quite clearly, with a clutch of numbers written around one riff, hook or beat. Turning Green is a prime example, appearing to crystallise around its propulsive percussion, its abrasive guitars adding an additional dimension. 

The repetitive, jangly riff of Sunfair Sundown is another obvious starting block, as is the recurring hook on opener and lead single Rae Street, where an easygoing, relaxed style beds down to create an appealing grower.

Another trait of the record, as with previous efforts, is Barnett’s ability to squeeze lyrics into the tightest of spots, regularly ignoring the standard line by line approach as sentences are stretched awkwardly and lines straddled uncomfortably. Yet, this misalignment is part of the fun, as displayed on the remorseful closer Oh The Night.

A microcosm of Barnett’s album, or career, appears in the shape of Here’s The Thing. Venturing from lazy, throwaway beginnings, the seed blossoms into a thing of beauty. Then there are the pandemic influences: the optimism of looking forward to an email, text, or in this case, a letter, captured on Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To and If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight’s observation that it’s “so quiet outside with this curfew”.

Excitingly, it’s the deviations from the expected that work best on ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’. Three albums in, Barnett seems to be growing, in both stature and ability, and with lockdown clearly helping with the construction of this work, maybe we will be able to look back on this time with at least a couple of fond memories.

Courtney Barnett Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon November 29 2021 - LAS VEGAS Nevada - Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas (USA)
Wed December 01 2021 - BOISE Idaho - Knitting Factory Boise (USA)
Thu December 02 2021 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Depot (USA)
Sat December 04 2021 - PHOENIX Arizona - Van Buren (USA)
Sun December 05 2021 - SAN DIEGO California - Observatory North Park (USA)
Thu December 09 2021 - LOS ANGELES California - Theatre at Ace (USA)
Fri December 10 2021 - LOS ANGELES California - Theatre at Ace (USA)
Sun December 12 2021 - OAKLAND California - Fox Theater Oakland (USA)
Tue December 14 2021 - SEATTLE Washington - Paramount Theatre Seattle (USA)
Wed December 15 2021 - VANCOUVER BC - Commodore Ballroom (Canada)
Thu January 20 2022 - MILWAUKEE Wisconsin - Pabst Theatre (USA)
Sat January 22 2022 - SAINT PAUL Minnesota - Palace Theatre St. Paul (USA)
Sun January 23 2022 - CHICAGO Illinois - Chicago Theatre (USA)
Tue January 25 2022 - DETROIT Michigan - Cathedral Theatre at the Detroit Masonic Temple (USA)
Wed January 26 2022 - COLUMBUS Ohio - Express Live (USA)
Fri January 28 2022 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Ryman Auditorium (USA)
Sat January 29 2022 - ATLANTA Georgia - Eastern Atlanta (USA)
Sun January 30 2022 - RALEIGH North Carolina - Ritz (USA)
Mon January 31 2022 - ASHEVILLE North Carolina - Orange Peel (USA)
Wed February 02 2022 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - 930 Club (USA)
Thu February 03 2022 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - 930 Club (USA)
Fri February 04 2022 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Met Philadelphia (USA)
Sat February 05 2022 - NEW YORK New York - Radio City Music Hall (USA)
Mon February 07 2022 - NEW HAVEN Connecticut - College Street Music Hall (USA)
Tue February 08 2022 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Boch Center Wang Theatre (USA)
Thu February 10 2022 - BURLINGTON Vermont - Higher Ground (USA)
Fri February 11 2022 - MONTREAL Quebec - MTELUS (Canada)
Sat February 12 2022 - TORONTO Ontario - Massey Hall (Canada)

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