An indie singer/songwriter recognized for her loose, gritty power-trio presentation, sharp lyrics, and deadpan conversational delivery, Courtney Barnett emerged in 2012 with the self-released EP I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. It garnered critical praise in her native Australia, and she soon won the positive attention of critics in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere with the follow-up, 2013′s How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose. Her full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, proved to be her commercial breakthrough, landing in the U.S. Top 20 and Top Five in Australia and earning nominations from both the Grammys (Best New Artist) and Brit Awards (International Female Solo Artist). In Australia, she took home the prizes for best female and breakthrough artist at the ARIAs. Her second LP, Tell Me How You Really Feel, became her highest-charting effort yet in Australia, reaching number two on the album chart upon its release in 2018, while consolidating her reputation in the U.S. and U.K. The 2021 release of Things Take Time, Take Time was accompanied by Anonymous Club, a documentary about Barnett that featured music by the singer/songwriter; that score was released in 2023 as End of the Day.
Born in Sydney in 1987, Courtney Melba Barnett grew up listening primarily to American bands but was only inspired to write songs after discovering Australian singer/songwriters Darren Hanlon and Paul Kelly. She joined Melbourne post-grunge outfit Rapid Transit as guitarist in 2010, remaining with them until 2011. Around that time, she issued a limited, live demo EP as leader of the Olivettes and became a member of alt-country group Immigrant Union. Their second album, 2012′s Anyway, was released on Barnett’s own label, Milk! Records, as was her solo debut EP, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. In 2013, as her fan base grew, she was invited to perform at New York’s CMJ Music Marathon showcase and to play shows in Europe. That year, she also played guitar on Jen Cloher’s third full-length, In Blood Memory (also issued on Milk! Records) and delivered her second EP, How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose. Marathon Records imprint House Anxiety took note and signed Barnett, and in October 2013, they collected her first two EPs on The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. It was issued by Mom + Pop Music in the U.S. in 2014. She also appeared on the compilation EP A Pair of Pears (With Shadows) alongside artists including Cloher and Fraser A. Gorman before the end of 2014.
Early the following year, Barnett made appearances on American television and the SXSW festival in preparation for her first full-length, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. After arriving on Milk! (Australia), Mom + Pop (U.S.), and House Anxiety (the rest of world) in March 2015, it went as high as number four on the album chart in Australia, while peaking at 16 in the U.K. and number 20 on the Billboard 200. The record’s widespread acclaim extended to Grammy and Brit Award nominations, and she collected four ARIA Awards including Breakthrough Artist, Best Female Artist, Best Independent Release, and Best Cover Artist (Barnett drew the album’s cover illustration).
Her next release was a duo album with like-minded slack rocker Kurt Vile titled Lotta Sea Lice. It was issued by Matador Records in 2017 and returned Barnett to the Australian Top Five. In May 2018, she presented her second solo album, Tell Me How You Really Feel. Returning co-producers Burke Reid and Dan Luscombe from her debut LP, it climbed to the number 22 spot in the U.S. while cracking the Top Ten in the U.K. and reaching number two at home. Tell Me How You Really Feel finished the year by winning Best Rock Album at that November’s ARIA Awards. Released in November 2021, Barnett’s third album, Things Take Time, Take Time, was co-produced with Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa. Around the release of Things Take Time, Take Time, film director Danny Cohen issued Anonymous Club, a documentary about Barnett. End of the Day, an instrumental album drawn from the music Barnett and Mozgawa improvised for Anonymous Club, appeared in 2023. ~ Marcy Donelson