Courtney Barnett | Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop Music)

cd Courtney-BarnettBarnett is a great storyteller; sometimes her stories are just stories, while at other times she wears her heart on her sleeve.

 

 

The first time I heard “Pedestrian at Best,” the first single from Courtney Barnett’s debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, it was like a force of nature. It is one of those songs you have to listen to more than once; the words just sort of find all the little folds in your brain and camp there. It is also an explosive song that you can easily imagine would throw a concert crowd into a state of pogo-dancing ecstasy. Filled with smart phrases (“Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami honey/ I think you’re a joke but I don’t find you very funny”) wrapped around a great, often used hook: all the stuff of which hit singles are made. So I was interested, and perhaps fearful, of what the rest of the album would bring. Smart lyrics are a rare commodity these days.

Turns out Barnett has smart lyrics to spare and her range is far and wide. Her observations on the album, some deep, some not, form intricate songs that leave lasting wounds about people, things, and the connections in between. “Depreston,” easily one of the best on the album, is about looking for a house, seeing what other people leave behind (that little bit that makes the house appear to be a home), while being reminded that this, someday, will be you. Your memories will be replaced. As the chorus of the song says, “If you have a spare half a million/ you could knock it down and start rebuilding.” “Dead Fox” starts off with the singer’s initial skepticism about organic foods and blossoms into a warning about being aware of each other and the things we sacrifice by not seeing one another. Here, Barnett uses the repeated admonition, “If you can’t see me, I can’t see you.” “Aqua Profunda!” is about romance found and lost at the beach during a series of aquatic tests of strength.

The Australian singer-songwriter often reminds me of Lucinda Williams or Beth Orton thrown together with a bit of Tom Waits for good measure, but at 26, she can come off as wisdom-filled as her older counterparts. Barnett has been part of the Australian music scene for several years, playing in a psych/country band called Immigrant Union and releasing a highly praised solo EP, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. She also runs her own label, Milk! Records.

Sometimes I Sit is filled with deep, lonely thoughts that often play out into whimsy. Barnett is a great storyteller and, as the album title suggests, sometimes her stories are just stories, while at other times she wears her heart on her sleeve. All through the disc, Barnett acts as our tour guide—and she offers us a pretty good trip. B | Jim Dunn

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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