Courtney Barnett’s refreshingly candid approach to songwriting and playing the guitar makes her an absolute star. Her unique approach to playing guitar was apparently born from listening to people like Hendrix who loved to experiment with his sound. I also read somewhere that one of the first albums Courtney ever brought was Nirvana’s Nevermind around the time she began playing guitar. It had a huge influence on her that has stuck with her ever since.
As a leftie, in her early days, unable to afford her own guitar, she resorted to borrowing friend’s guitars and playing them upside down. Nowadays, she has no problems finding a guitar that suits her needs, particularly her trusty Fender Jaguar. If you are lucky enough to see Courtney play live you will notice how she loves using her pedalboard to extract whatever unique sound she wants to employ. This same approach of mucking around with pedals is what makes her recording process so much fun. That said, her go-to tone has arguably always been a bit of distortion.
On her great new sophomore album Tell Me How You Really Feel there are plenty of singalongs and guitar sounds and licks that I absolutely love. A number of standout tracks – Nameless, Faceless, City Looks Pretty and Charity – could have all easily featured here in this series but I’ve decided to instead share Need A Little Time from one of her live shows. What I love the most about it is Barnett’s over the top deadpan vocals in tandem with her unique jangly guitar sound. (By the way, you’ll notice she hates guitar picks and prefers to strum or fingerpick her guitar.) The lyrics, of course, tell a story about being stressed out and needing time out for personal space. Enjoy!