Sometimes I Sit And Listen To Courtney Barnett, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett is first and foremost a storyteller. On her debut album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, she paints a vivid picture of the strange, mundane and ultimately ambivalent nature of life.
Barnett has a knack for creating narratives with universal qualities. Take for example, Depreston, which finds Barnett and girlfriend, Jen Cloher considering the merits of moving to a more rural part of Melbourne. The song is heavily sentimental and oddly heart wrenching at times, as Barnett and Cloher get to know the house they are inspecting. Moving from image to image she conjures stirring pictures in your head, a photograph on a wall of a soldier in a van, a handrail in the shower. She doesn’t explain why they matter, favouring to paint a scene instead, and lets you feel your way through it.
Pedestrian at Best is Courtney Barnett giving us an update. Since she released The Double Ep: A Sea Of Split Peas a lot has changed for her. Avant Gardener blew up in a pretty significant way leading her to play Jimmy Fallon and almost every major festival around the world. Barnett starts adjusting your perception of her before you even listen to Pedestrian at Best, as the title gives you an inkling of what kind of mood she’s in. But the song isn’t all self-deprecation, but rather a celebration of collective imperfection.
An Illustration Of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York) finds our protagonist in a sympathetic situation: alone and awake in a hotel room, far away from where they would rather be. “Watching all the movies, drinking all the smoothies, swimming at the pool, I’m thinking of you too”. Barnett sells this with a quiet emotionality that suggests real longing and loneliness in her voice that feels wholly honest. It very much feels like you’ve been let in on something uniquely personal that only Barnett and Cloher were meant to be feeling.
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit has many highlights. I’m particularly fond of Elevator Operator, the albums leading track, and Dead Fox , which begins with Barnett singing about organic foods and driving down long highways. Ultimately, Courtney Barnett’s greatest attribute is her willingness to share aspects of her life with us, whether that she’s feeling happy, sad or just flat out weird.