Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, by Courtney Barnett (Album of the Week)

“Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” is funny, intriguing, and musically spot on.  When Robin chose this one for our series of reviews, I had no idea who Courtney Barnett is – now she’s my second-favorite Australian (ONJ will never be displaced). 

The music on this album is solid rock.  Great guitar work, solid drums, up-tempo bar band rock.  It works perfectly with the lyrics, which are clever and hooky, but could come off as introspective and self-absorbed if not for the energy supplied by the bouncy melodies.

Which isn’t to say that the lyrics aren’t strong enough to maintain interest, even if they were doomed to an acoustic, quiet-voiced treatment.  Good stuff abounds.  The opening track is about a young man dodging his responsibilities by skipping work – but he gets mistaken for a potential suicide.  His accuser – well, she might be the one thinking of jumping, with her botox frown.  It’s a quirky, surprisingly fun song, and it’s the only one on the album that isn’t centered on Courtney Barnett’s thoughts and feelings.

This is not at all a suicide album – Courtney Barnett’s style is too tackle things head-on.  In the second track, “Pedestrian at Best”, she embraces her flaws and insecurities, and assures the world “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you”. 

There’s hope here, too.  In “Small Poppies”, the longest song on the album at 7 minutes, she offers up some great guitar work that moves from the Cowboy Junkies to Stevie Ray Vaughn.  Over that solid backbone, she intones,

I don't know quite who I am, oh but man I am trying
I make mistakes until I get it right
An eye for an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye
I used to hate myself but now I think I'm alright

Nothing here is taken too seriously – nothing except, perhaps, the music, which I really want to see performed live.  

In “Kim’s Caravan”, she complains about the environmental degradation in her native Australia, but acknowledges that her role as an artist is to allow people to draw their own conclusions:

Don't ask me what I really mean
I am just a reflection
Of what you really wanna see
So take you want from me

Like the people destroying the Great Barrier Reef, the world is going do what it’s going to do, but, at least in this song, she sees Jesus transform from a frowning he to a smiling she.

Robin absolutely loves this album, and has already carved out a spot on her Top Ten of the Year for it.  In one sentence, she does a better job of describing Courtney Barnett than this entire review achieves:  “She is kind of Lucinda Williams melting into Chrissie Hynde to create the next generation of women rockstars.”  Yep, that about sums up Courtney Barnett. 

Next up:  Tracker, by Mark Knopfler

No comments:

Post a Comment