Courtney Barnett strips it back at The Center

JACKSON, Wyo. — Australian songstress Courtney Barnett wears her heart on her lyrical sleeve. She rides a musical wave of clever honesty, weaving the flaws of human nature through a personal artistic thread. Most of her shows are performed with a full band, though her upcoming solo performance on Thursday at the Center Theater will turn the telescope towards vocal expression, a single guitar (plugged into three tube amps), and intimacy.

In addition to being nominated for a Grammy (Best New Artist) and winning six Australian Record Industry Association Awards, Barnett has been critically recognized as one of the more compelling voices in indie rock. She can be a rambunctious rocker or exist on a more zen level, the latter evidenced on her collaborative album with Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice (2017). In either case, Barnett is fond of dense narration and observation, an element that will be front-and-center at The Center.

Before leaving home for this tour, she hosted two sold-out shows in her homeland for bushfire relief. She told Rolling Stone last month, “It’s a really low mood. People are angry and upset and scared and feeling hopeless — and trying to find ways to help out of that hopeless feeling. People have banded together really strongly out of desperation and a lack of help and guidance from our government. Communities have banded together to make change and protest. People just want to help.”

Lately, Barnett has been a prolific writer while bouncing around to houses and tiny apartments where she’s had to be conscious of volume and close-by neighbors. Those songs will be coupled with additional material pulled from her full-length releases—Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015) and Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018) as well as The Double EP: The Sea of Split Peas (2014) and several other singles and live shows released over the last few years.

“It’s literally me and a guitar. It’s so stripped back. There’s nothing to hide behind, which is kind of scary,” Barnett recently told Cleveland.com. “But I think it’s a refocus on the song as a skeleton and the lyrics and the actual story behind the song. There’s no prettiness to distract you. It’s just right there.”

Opening the show will be Hachiku, a.k.a Anika Ostendorf, a twenty-five year old writer and producer of “dream pop with an avant garde twist.” She is on Barnett’s label, Milk Records.

Courtney Barnett with guest Hachiku, 7 p.m. Thursday at the Center Theater. $48-$80. CenterForTheArts.org.

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