Album Review: Courtney Barnett “Things Take Time, Take Time”

Courtney Barnett Things Take Time, Take Time
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

Artist: Courtney Barnett

Album: Things Take Time, Take Time

Favorite Songs: “Rea Street,” Sunfair Down,” “Write A List of Things To Look Forward To” and “Oh the Night”

For Fans Of: Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, and Angel Olsen
Despite the ever-changing and often depressing world around her, Australian artist Courtney Barnett settles into a place of acceptance with her fourth studio album Things Take Time, Take Time. The album’s ten tracks showcase Barnett’s anecdotal song-writing as well as ever, and her reflections on life surface encouraging sentiments for all. 


Things Take Time, Take Time sees a much different side of Barnett than her last album, 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel. The change is palpable in nearly every layer of the album.

A tightly-framed portrait of a straight-faced Barnett, overlaid in red covered her last LP. From blaring electric guitars to song titles tinged with angst, the rock-filled contents matched its exterior. Barnett centered Tell Me How You Really Feel around the city and delivered her messages with a fiery passion. 

This time around, a paint palette of nine shades of blue serves as the cover, setting the calming tone of Things Take Time, Take Time. Sonically, Barnett’s guitar shapes the album’s laid-back sound along with an inviting drumbeat and her ever-earnest, distinctive vocals. 


Barnett’s songwriting is as intimate as ever on her latest record. The album’s lead track, “Rae Street” serves as an homage to the home Barnett settled into during the pandemic. It’s the first slice of the deeply personal journey Barnett takes listeners on with the album. 

“Before You Gotta Go,” is a more upbeat and playful moment in the album sonically, as Barnett sings of not wanting a relationship to end on bad terms. “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight” sees her find acceptance in putting her feelings out there to someone, whether the love is requited or not. And on “Here’s the Thing,” which has a particularly dreamy and mellow sound, she sings “your windowsill is momentarily filled with sun. And it's these small thrills that get me through the day until the next one.” Pulling these anecdotal bits from her everyday life, Barnett is able to build something deeply introspective. 


Through the tracks, Courtney Barnett navigates breakup, deaths, and problems weighing on the world as a whole, from the pandemic to wildfires. While heavy topics, she does not drag listeners into these happenings to wallow in self-pity, but rather to find peace. An encouraging tone and a message of patience run deep.

Songs like “Take It Day By Day” and “Write A List of Things to Look Forward to” offer clear assurance. Taking a gentler approach compared to previous album favorites like “Keep On” and “Elevator Operator,” the tracks are still equally effective. “Don’t stick that knife in the toaster, baby life is like a roller coaster,” she sings in “Take It Day By Day,” keeping her signature witty yet sincere tone.


Barnett leaves listeners with “Oh the Night,” to close the album. The beautiful track is led by piano and drums rather than Barnett’s usual guitar. She appears to reference the title of her last album in the chorus, singing “sorry that I've been slow, you know it takes a little time for me to show how I really feel.” It is the perfect wrap-up to represent Courtney Barnett’s journey to finding peace in patience.

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