Album Review: Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You really Feel

Courtney Barnett is swiftly developing global adulation for her low-fi, heartfelt vignettes of life which capture with great honesty her trials and tribulations and insecurities. Like Jonathan Richman, there is a brutal honesty in her lyrics that reveal a bruised innocence, backed with an increasingly muscular instrumentation that creeps up and surprises.

Themes reflect her own life as her fame has skyrocketed in a posed self-deprecating and laconic style – ‘Nameless Faceless’ turns the mirror back on the keyboard warriors who denigrate her music:

Don’t you have anything better to do,
I wish that someone could hug you,
must be lonely being angry, feeling overlooked,
you sit alone at home in the darkness,
with all your pent up rage that you harness
I’m real sorry,
About whatever happened to you

‘City Looks Pretty’ reflects on Barnett’s growing fame and the effects on her personal life: ‘friends treat you like a stranger and strangers treat you like their best friend’. Despite the downbeat theme it is a bright, lilting tune which showcase Barnett’s often looked guitar skills.

We already reviewed ‘Need a Little Time’ which follows similar themes: “I don’t know a lot about you but, you seem to know a lot about me so, I take a little time out…’:

Barnett also reflects on the impact of her fame on her personal relationship with her partner, Jen Cloher, an accomplished musician in her own right:

Say what you want
Don’t got a lot
Oh but what I got
I’d give it all away

Lyrically, the entire album is certainly engaging and entertaining but the strength of the melodies and instrumentation create a magnificent album as a whole. Barnett has maintained her lyrical qualities that made her so special in the first place, but has further enhanced this with a greater melodic and pop sensibility. It is personal, intimate, and enthralling yet has a powerful enervating anthemic pulse: it rocks with intelligence and sensitivity.

You can get/stream the album here.

You can catch Barnett on tour across North America and Europe:


(+ with Loose Tooth)

Fri 25th May – Belfast at BBC’s Biggest Weekend
Tues 29th May – Leeds at O2 Academy +
Wed 30th May – Brussels at Ancienne Belgique +
Thu 31st May – Utrecht at Tivoli Vredenburg Ronda +
Sat 2nd June – Glasgow at Barrowlands +
Sun 3rd June – London at All Points East Festival
Mon 4th June – Manchester at Academy +
Tues 5th June – Bristol at O2 Academy +
Wed 6th June – London at Roundhouse +
Sat 9th June – Paris at Bataclan +
Sun 10th June – Luxembourg at Den Atelier +
Mon 11th June – Berlin at Astra Kulturhaus +
Wed 13th June – Cologne at Live Music Hall +


Tues 10th July – Toronto, ON at Danforth Music Hall
Weds 11th July – Ottawa, ON at Ottawa Blues Festival
Thurs 12th July – North Adams, MA at MASS MoCA
Sat 14th July – Columbus OH at Newport Music Hall
Sun 15th July – Louisville, KY at Forecastle Festival
Tues 17th July – St. Louis, MO at The Pageant
Wed 18th July – Kansas City, MO at Truman
Sat 21st July – Minneapolis, MN at Surly Brewing Festival Field
Tues 24th July – Washington DC at The Anthem
Wed 25th July – Brooklyn, NY at Prospect Park Bandshell
Sat 28th July – Newport, RI at Newport Folk Festival

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