I’m not usually a fan of screechy guitars and lazy talk-singing so it took me awhile to warm up to Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett. But eventually she found her way into my life and now she’s here to stay. She’s another ingredient in my “playful melancholy” playlist (see post on Sales), with her wry but oh-so-precise humor, her world-weary frustration and her gentle embrace of hope. Even her song titles (“Crippling Self-Doubt And A General Lack of Confidence”) feel painfully relatable to me as a human being, and especially as a woman.
She’s not afraid to express the realities of womanhood (for better or worse), particularly in her song “Nameless, Faceless” which calls out anonymous misogynists while bemoaning her simple desire to “walk through the park in the dark” without having to hold keys between her fingers for protection. As I’m writing, I’m realizing that this means even more coming from someone whose aesthetic typically puts off a “just one of the boys” vibe. I appreciate that she’s comfortable speaking in plain terms about what it’s like to be a woman in a world that’s subtly built against us. It’s nice to have a sister who gets it.
2018 was a rough year, but I’ve often claimed her song, “Hopefulness”, as a benediction: “Your vulnerability / Stronger than it seems / You know it’s okay to have a bad day.” I think I’ll bring her with me into the new year.