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Courtney Barnett – “Need A Little Time” Review

March 19, 2018 | Posted by David Hayter
Courtney Barnett
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Courtney Barnett – “Need A Little Time” Review  

If “I Need A Little Time” tells us anything it’s that Courtney Barnett is a sneaky little lady. Not only does she use her dreamily disconsolate vocal to disguise a host of narrative twists, but her innate aura of shabbiness does its best to disguise how grand and luscious her sound has become. The scuzz of her debut is still present and no one would describe her current sound as clean, but this is a giant departure from the rugged understatement that made her famous.

There’s no two ways about it, Courtney Barnett has one of the great modern rock voices. Her trademark tone simply refuses to settle in one neatly definable box. Sure, she’s got some indie ennui, some rock snarl, some pop syrup and the distant glare of a disillusioned dreamer, but she never embodies any one of these extremes in isolation.

This cryptic emotional menagerie proves devastating on “I Need A Little Time”. As she weaves a path between the booming percussion and luscious, grinding, jangling guitars, she appears to be simultaneously shrugging and shedding a tear. The nonplussed gesture should undermine the powerful emotion being expressed, but Courtney manages to reconcile and inhabit both of these conflicting states.

If Courtney is surefooted, her audience is left completely bamboozled. We are at her mercy and she isn’t going to make it easy. This is a break up song hiding in plain sight. Barnett excoriates herself in the opening verse (“I don’t know a lot about you…I’m sorry that I lost my patience, you deserve better, it’s true”) and looks to be treading a nihilistic path as she cries, “I need a little time out from meeeeeeeee”, but then, at the absolute death, she slips in “and you”. What a way to twist the knife.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
To be honest Courtney, you could have just said: “it’s not you, it’s me” and saved us a world of hurt – but then we’d have missed out of four minutes of luscious music and masterful songcraft.

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Courtney Barnett, David Hayter