Courtney Barnett’s Second Album Is Edgy and Excellent

Each song on “Tell Me How You Really Feel” is like a heartfelt message from a pal.

Album Review

Courtney Barnett
Tell Me How You Really Feel
Mom + Pop

Thanks to engaging songs like “Avant Gardener” and the charming debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has become a star. But success has also brought long stretches away from home on tour, the increased attention of haters, and a heightened sense of social ills. If the excellent sophomore effort, Tell Me How You Really Feel, sometimes finds Barnett in a darker frame of mind, her unfussy guitar pop has retained its unassuming shimmer, albeit with a rougher, even angry, edge: “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” shows she’s capable of losing her patience. Her knack for memorable vignettes undiminished, Barnett addresses relationship stress (“Charity”), rebuffs skeptics (“Nameless, Faceless”), and offers nonjudgmental comfort (“Sunday Roast”). Best of all, she’s still a wonderfully offhand singer who makes every line feel like a heartfelt message from a pal, one with the same doubts and insecurities as us ordinary folks.

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