Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time

‘Things Take Time...’ is striking in its tenderness.

Label: Marathon Artists
Released: 12th November 2021

To call ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’ purely a lockdown album would be reductive, but last year’s isolation-induced contemplation is heavy on the third LP from Courtney Barnett. Has any song captured those strange first months better than plodding opener/first single ‘Rae Street’? “All eyes on the pavement”, she scene sets before casually brushing off the apocalypse in her typically unphased Aussie drawl: “I’m not gonna touch ya / Don’t worry so much about it”.

From an artist whose razor wit is usually the focal point, ‘Things Take Time…’ is striking in its tenderness. When we last met Courtney it was on 2018’s technicolour whirlwind ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, the record that backed up the Grammy and Brit Award noms to cement her as an unstoppable new voice in rock. A world tour followed, then the inevitable burnout. Whack on a pandemic and the result is a slower, calmer record that swaps stadium rock for intimate, bluesy vignettes.

One of several cuts elevated by punchy drum machine, ‘Sunfair Sundown’ is as balmy as the day you imagine inspired it, ‘If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight’ is endearing in its sheepishness, while ‘Here’s the Thing’ channels paranoia and longing into a slow meander. “Here’s the thing / I can’t stop thinking about you”, goes its opening, the last word elongated like a train of thought already half lost.

The record isn’t all frownies, though; her same laugh-out-loud sense of humour that gave us quips like “I’m not suicidal, just idling insignificantly” (‘Elevator Operator’) bowls in at the midway mark. “Don’t stick that knife in the toaster / Baby life is like a rollercoaster”, she matter-of-factly proclaims on the joyful and wacky ‘Take It Day By Day’. ‘Before You Gotta Go’ is the album’s pinnacle, though. It finds her reconciling with a loved one to a slow build imbued with romance and realness: “If something were to happen my dear / I wouldn’t want the last words you hear to be unkind”, she sings.

Courtney has always been a master storyteller and, while this album sounds smaller than its predecessor, the pictures she paints on it are more refined and easier to get lost in than ever, another notch in the belt of this prolific young songwriter. 

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