Courtney Barnett (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube)

Courtney Barnett’s ‘Rae Street’ and ‘Before You Gotta Go’ Review

Written by Savannah Selimi

Courtney Barnett is one of the most formidable folk musicians right now. And yet, the Melbourne-based artist is still criminally underrated. She has a voice that is immediately recognisable – soft, slightly-raspy, monotone but affectionally Australian. Her songwriting is a whole other story, sometimes sounding like a comic at a poetry slam or a Notes app entry engulfed in millennial angst. But this isn’t an essay praising Courtney Barnett – there’s an array of ARIA accolades and a Grammy nomination to fill that space.  

Barnett’s upcoming album Things Take Time, Take Time is certain to both evolve from her previous albums smash successes and still spark with the same signature magic. Speaking to Rolling Stone, she says that the new record is about finding some sort of joy and gratitude, out of some sort of pain and sadness. 

Until Things Take Time, Take Time release on November 12, we’ve got the newly-released tracks ‘Rae Street’ and ‘Before You Gotta Go’ to play on repeat. 

What first strikes about ‘Rae Street’ is an unreal bassline which is immediately the most catchy part of the song. It’s a short, repetitive rhythm that gives Barnett’s vocals reign to follow, creating a catchy, folk melody. Noticeably more sombre than rocky tunes like ‘City Looks Pretty’ and ‘Pedestrian At Best’, Barnett swaps intense drums and ragingly honest songwriting for stripped-back instrumentals and softer vocals.  

The mystifying line ‘Time is money, and money is no man’s friend plays like a profound quip made mid-conversation with a friend. Though, the artist explains that the one-liner came about from a writing exercise mid-quarantine: One day I made a list of all the phrases that I could remember my parents saying”.  

‘Rae Street’ comments on the mundanity of life – mornings watching the outside world by the window; riding bikes; and walking your dog. The tune also demonstrates a tone of exasperation towards the state of the world – criticising the notions of ‘candles, hopes and prayers’ as societies crumble and the climate depletes. Watching the earth from the inside of a Melbourne apartment, Barnett appreciates one thing for certain – ‘The sun will rise today and tomorrow’. 

‘Before You Gotta Go’ is a poignant tune offering forgiveness to a loved one. The track is heartwarming and heartbreaking simultaneously, Barnett mixing regret, heartache and honesty in her lyrics. Retelling an argument or confrontation with someone she loves, the lyrics stress on getting angry and saying ‘careless things’, having ’pride like poison’ and slamming doors. As the tune progresses, the mellow, romantic acoustics and smooth vocals emphasise not waiting for tomorrow and letting the people you love, know you love them now. The song sounds like a vouch for clarity from Barnett’s end, singing with a sense of humble retrospect and maturity. 

Hailed as Australia’s answer to Bob Dylan (no pressure there), Courtney Barnett’s latest releases are both refreshingly authentic and melodically addictive. A true artist painting with every stroke of genius she has to offer. 

Things Take Time, Take Time is available to stream and buy from November 12. 

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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