Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett
Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett's debut record was a revelation back in 2015. Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I just Sit. tore her mind right open and put it on full display. It was stripped down and unabashedly honest while still managing to maintain a sense of melody. With some of her counter parts like The War on Drugs and Father John Misty, these rockers get so full of philosophical inspiration that they forget it's nice to be able to sing along to their words. Barnett never looses that, and on this new record she even pushes for catchier songs while never losing that great plain language. The thing Her first album had that this one seems to be lacking however is that same witty confidence. She is still a very confident songwriter but on tracks like "Nameless Faceless" she takes a flailing stab at internet trolls with the line " He said 'I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you', but you didn't". It seems like the young artist doesn't really thrive on the conflict, it puts her in a defensive and often shrinking position that doesn't translate well to the music. It's easy to dispose of internet hate as purely trolling, but people are allowed to have their own opinion about your work, I think that is entirely the fucking point. Not everyone is going to get you, but pointing to them and exclaiming how they've missed the mark makes you looks stupid. You want Courtney Barnett singing about what is in her mind, not responding to what is in someone else's. It's her assumptions about people, evident on tracks like "Charity", that are the most endearing and honest. Just in case you've ever been curious about Barnett's state of mind she makes it rather clear on "Crippling Self Doubt" but she somehow makes anxiety again feel fun.

This album shows Barnett with a much more refined pallet especially with the music. There are raucous guitar solos, killer riffs and a mountain of super solid rock & roll infusing the genre with some much needed life.  Songs like "Walkin' On Eggshells" feature an Americana vibe that the Australian is able to harness perfectly. The real star here is the last track "Sunday Roast" which moves along with this perfectly gentle pace capturing perfectly that idea of wanting to turn down on a Sunday. It slides the album into this gentle ending letting it trail off rather than abruptly run away. While this record doesn't really fall into the sophomore slump category is does miss some of the specialness that the first record had. This does give you some hope for rock & roll which has been pumping out stinker after stinker in the past year or so. Barnett has always existed in her own orbit and this album is another example of that, refunsing to step in any of the political traps that many other artists have over the past year. This is a fine album, not her worst, but also not her best; probably not what you want to hear as an artist, yet maybe good enough.

7.0 out of 10


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