FOR an artist who has made a successful career out of singing about the beauty in the mundanity of suburban life, COVID lockdowns must have seemed like a blessing for Courtney Barnett.
After several hectic years touring her second album Tell Me How You Really Feel - much of it in the US - the 34-year-old found herself seeking solace at the beginning of 2020. Initially the plan was to bunker down in LA and write songs, but COVID brought her home to Melbourne.
There Barnett wrote album No.3 Things Take Time, Take Time, easily the most mellow and personal of her career.
It's also Barnett's most mature piece of writing. While previously she's been committed to a quick fix on the guitar-driven Pedestrian At Best and Nameless, Faceless, Barnett adopts a more sparse and meditative palette, with synths adding texture to Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To.
Lyrically Things Take Time, Take Time is also much warmer. There's no blistering I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch here.
It's impossible to ignore the influence of her break-up with long-time partner and fellow musician, Jen Cloher. On the tender Before You Gotta Go, Barnett sings, "If something were to happen my dear/ I wouldn't want the last words you hear to be unkind" and then on Here's The Things she offers, "Here's the thing, can't stop thinking about you/ Yeah I'm writing, it's the only thing that I know how to do."
The pandemic also stamps its influence on Barnett's musings.
If I Don't Hear From You Tonight is cheerful ode to finding new love during COVID, while the opener Rae Street sees Barnett's inquisitive eye dissect the repetition in her neighbourhood during lockdown.
However, Things Take Time, Take Time does meander aimlessly in places. Barnett's spoken-word vocal style struggles on the plodding Splendour and Oh The Night.
Three albums in Barnett's career continues to grow and expand and Things Take Time, Take Time is very much an album of its era. It's an open book into Barnett's life in 2020 and it makes for fascinating reading.