By Jamila Pomeroy
Courtney Barnett’s second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, may have a smaller, more introverted feel, but this change is reflective of the Melbourne based songwriter putting herself in a more vulnerable place.
While the critically acclaimed musician is known for her wordy, wit-full lyrics and her commanding stage presence, she explains that for the most part, she keeps to herself and gets lost in her own thoughts. “I don’t really talk that much,” she says, followed by a laugh. “The songs probably come around like that because I spend a whole lot of time working on them. So it’s all of these thoughts put together in a short amount of time. I think in real life I just kind of keep quite quiet and keep my thoughts to myself a bit. ‘Hopefulessness,’ the first track, is pretty reflective my thoughts of the world in general over the last few years.” Barnett chose to work with producers Burk Reid and Dan Luscombe again, which facilitated a space of comfort and creativity, while rendering the high caliber production of her previous work. “There was a great group of people in the studio for the last album,” she says. “I always feel quite vulnerable in the studio and it’s kind of nice to be surrounded by such warm, friendly and encouraging people.”
Joining the list of noteworthy creative collaborators is cinematographer, Ashley Connor, known best for her work on Mountain Rest (2018), Our Idiot Brother (2011) and The Backseat (2016). The two shot the music video for “Charity” in the midst of her last international tour. “She has worked on a some incredible films, and video clips as well. I just think she is super talented and a really cool person,” Barnett says.
Barnett speaks of often getting lost in thought, keeping to herself and generally being an introverted, quiet person. To be clear, she is an introvert until you begin to talk records; lighting up with a great contrasting energy. “Oh I’ve got a list, I just made a list! let me look at it. I was about to update my actual playlist,” Barnett says excitedly as she looks through her playlist. “I’ve been listening to Marianne Faithfull a lot; she is about to put out a new album and I didn’t know that much about her so I delved into her back-catalogue, and that is obviously a big catalogue. A bit of Nick Cave’s albums I haven’t listened to and some Joan As Police Woman, Anna Calvi.” While these artists may not sonically reflect the works of Barnett, they all have one thing in common, unbelievable talented musicians with unique personalities with the ability to turn anything into a captivating story filled with emotion.
“Everything inspires me, whether its inspiring in a good way, or a bad way,” she says. “I think to be aware of the world around you is obviously important and plays a big role. Not that songs are specifically about those things, but I think it all adds together.”
Courtney Barnett performs at the Vogue Theatre Oct. 9 and 10.