Album: Things Take Time, Take Time
Artist: Courtney Barnett
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
In the music video for Courtney Barnett’s Turning Green, the Australian singer-songwriter sits behind a pane of glass, occasionally cracking a gentle smile as she paints shades of blue. This image sets the mood for the whole album: the feeling of sitting alone with Barnett in sincere, sky-blue comfort.
I’ve been closely following Courtney Barnett since her 2015 release Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit: a sharp, sardonic, and anthemic no-skip album that more or less put her on the Indie-Alt map. Between that album, 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, and a series of EPs and singles, the artist has established an iconic and unwavering style. The Courtney Barnett trademark is defined by monotone half-spoken vocals, skillful folk-inspired guitar, and observational lyrics ruminating on mundane life. Things Take Time, Take Time continues this tradition while slowing it down and tackling some more vulnerable emotions compared to previous albums. Barnett doesn’t stray much from her norm or attempt to recreate the crunchy heights of her debut album, but she does provide a solid listening experience with a lot of heart.
Things Take Time, Take Time is an album where every musical decision feels tactful and every song is a sum greater than its parts. Barnett knows when to dial it back and let individual elements of the song stand out. Take Turning Green for example: the opening of the song sets the mood with repetitive, woody percussion, which seamlessly transitions into a two-minute-long distorted guitar solo. Similarly, Sunfair Sundown establishes a sort of call-and-response conversation between the vocals and guitars that persists throughout the entire song. At no point are the different sounds competing for attention; they follow each other naturally and each serve an important function in the overall composition.
I always have and always will love Barnett’s vocals. Her singing is peaceful and unaffected. It feels like a monologue with natural ebbs and flows in pitch that match the instrumentation, and her deadpan delivery is well-suited to an album about slowing down and looking out the window.
From the album art to the track titles to the lyrics, this is an album about finding comfort. It’s fitting that this album was largely written during quarantine while Barnett was stuck in a Melbourne apartment. The lyrics feel like the words of someone watching the world crumble around them as they try to convince themselves that everything will be okay. Barnett tackles hollow platitudes with wry humor, and in doing so gives them depth and sincerity. Cliches like “take it day by day, “write a list of things to look forward to,” or even “money is no man’s friend” feel genuine when they’re spoken-sung by Barnett.
As much as this album was born from hard times, it feels optimistic. None of the songs are bummers; if anything, they’re rousing. Not in a “get up and grab life by the horns” kind of way, but in a “hey, I noticed you were having a bad day, so I bought you a coffee” kind of way. And I think all of us, no matter what we’re going through, could use a friend like that right now.
Before You Gotta Go
Take It Day By Day
Reviewer’s Name: John Konrad
Date of Review: 11/25/2021