As far as indie rock artistry goes, you can’t really get much better than Courtney Barnett. With her last full length Tell Me How You Really Feel showing how far she’s come as an artist, hearing some of those tracks in a different setting easily proves that any accolades she’s received are well earned. On her new EP MTV Unplugged Live In Melbourne, Barnett gives the audience a different side to her sound while making us all bigger fans in the process.
The performance is met with audience appreciation before and after every song. Barnett steers away from the electric guitar as figured, but replaces that gurgle with a soft tuned acoustic and a piano with ease. Beginning with “Depreston,” Barnett mixes acoustic and her upfront vocals to draw you near with her honesty. When the strings and drums come in, the song has a more full and lush landscape of sound than it does on the original version. While “Sunday Roast” keeps with this softer tone, her cover of the Archie Roach track “Charcoal Lane” with Paul Kelly is wonderfully done. With Barnett’s acoustic and Kelly’s harmonica, the duo makes the song their own with ease.
But wile Barnett makes use of the format to expand what she’s known for, the set list is one made up of favorites and a few covers that hit. Her cover of the Leonard Cohen classic “So Long, Marianne” will make you forget that it’s a cover. The weight of Barnett’s honest vocals makes it have a completely different sound without losing the original intent. But of all the tracks that truly stand out, “Nameless Faceless” performed with Evelyn Ida Morris was our favorite. Singing against a piano rather than a guitar, and toning down the pacing gives the track a completely different take. The vocals from both give the words a true heft that may have been lost in the original, while Barnett sounds bare and stripped in her vocal delivery here that shines a light on her words. The entire performance is a more open approach that pays off for fans and first listeners alike.
The EP can be preordered on blue vinyl directly from Mom+Pop Music before its February 21 release. It can also be streamed on all streaming sites or purchased digitally wherever you download music. Courtney Barnett is on tour starting December 12 in Melbourne, Australia at Sydney Myer Music Bowl until February 08 in Estes Park, CO at The Stanley Hotel. Her complete tour routing can be located here.
Image Credits: Photo by Pooneh Ghana.