Out of the Woodwork

Out of dozens of recent new discoveries, Courtney Barnett is probably the most exciting. I’m pretty confident that she’s one for the ages. Being a mold-breaker has something to do with it; Barnett doesn’t have much in common with the indie pop crowd et al. From her droll observational humor to her normcore style, she’s an artist outside of trends and firmly inside a long tradition of clever, verbose songwriters. And mostly, being much more clever than anyone else is the most appealing thing about her. She plays with words like a jigsaw master, and she nails the pointed emotional currents that color the most banal moments. Because grand outbursts may happen in extreme moments, but our emotional lives are really a constant slow trickle that bubbles and flows and gets affected by tiny, tiny things and rights itself without us really noticing it except as mental wallpaper, and we don’t usually stop and consider how every object and moment has subtle value. And we most certainly don’t write songs about the boring things we see and feel all day long, unless we’re Courtney Barnett.


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