Whenever I write about lyrics - here or in a post on Facebook - there are always comments from people telling me that lyrics aren't important, or are the least important part of music for them. Fair enough, we all have our own ways of listening, our own taste, and though I love a good lyric - as on Bill Callahan's album last year or most recently the new Sun Kil Moon album - I'm also a sucker for great instrumental pieces, ambient music, jazz, soundtracks and big, dumb pop songs with really obvious, simple lyrics. There's no one thing that wins you over every time.
But I have to tell you that discovering Courtney Barnett's album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas I was won over, instantly, by the lyrics. She's a great singer, I like the lick and curl and pout of the music - reminds me of first time back listening to Liz Phair and a bunch of other things I used to love - but it's the words in these songs (stories) that have pulled me in.
Time on the road and more time at the craft might result in something else happening within the music - and that would be needed to hook me in to a second album, I wouldn't want to hear all of this again but just with new words, I'd want something different, but this first album is full of great lyrical ideas. It's funny, quirky and there's something often magical in the way the word and the guitar line/s fit together, the phrasing; nice surprises, punchlines that weren't telegraphed, twists and surprises.
There's also that thing of singing about the mundane nature of everyday life, so you're back to hearing Pavement and Chris Knox and Jonathan Richman and many others.
Courtney Barnett manages to sing about contemporary life in a way that avoids the cringe and twinge mechanisms.
Lyrics can often be a way into an album, a reason for listening - but there needs to be something else to recommend it, otherwise you won't stay. And Barnett has some good hooks in the songs, even if one or two of the tunes here sound so similar as to almost play out like repeats. That's no matter, when you hear this - when you hear the way it unfolds.
As the title tells us, this debut long-player is in fact two earlier EPs that have been sandwiched together for length, to make an international debut album. The 24 year old Melbourne-based singer/songwriter is something special I reckon.
I'd love to see her tour NZ.
Have you heard her? Here's my review of the album. Give it a go. I'd love to know what you think. (There are a couple of song-links in that review too).
Postscript: After Friday's discussion around wedding music horror stories and my tale of the worst situation I'd experienced I'm happy to report that weekend duties as the wedding DJ went off, er, without a hitch. It was a lot of fun here's the tunes I played.
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts