Barnett, who is from Melbourne, Australia, is very hard to not like. She is a clever songwriter with an extremely identifiable ironic writing style. The same could be said for her singing. Like her or not, she is instantly recognizable. Her videos are fun to watch as well.
Her 2015 debut album, “Sometimes and I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit,” was met with “rave critical acclaim,” according to Wikipedia. Rolling Stone noted that it received “a surprise Grammy nomination.” The album made the list of best albums of the year from Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Times (UK), Pitchfork and the Chicago Tribune.
It’s ridiculous, of course, to try to write something about how someone sounds. John Sieger at Urban Milwaukee does a nice job of trying, however. He says that Barnett has an “off balance musical sensibility” and that she “also sing/talks in a truly arresting manner, almost like she’s behind your back muttering about some recent slight.”
The goal, I suppose, of NPR’s Guest DJ feature is to trace the influences on musicians in a manner more interesting than simply asking them. In the case of Barnett, two highest profile (and no doubt oldest) acts she selected at Wilco (“Handshake Drugs”) and Talking Heads (“Once in a Lifetime”).
Barnett’s discography is posted at Discogs. She has most recorded an album with a musician named Kurt Vile. The two are touring together and will hit the states this autumn.
The Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey does a nice profile of Barnett. She comes across exactly as her songs suggest: Quiet, introspective, very intelligent and a keen observer. Gaining a good deal of notoriety – she is a star in Australia — must be a very interesting and somewhat unsettling experience for her.
Above is “Elevator Operator” and below is “How to Boil an Egg.”