Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett; Anna Moneymaker for The Anthem

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Indie rock darling Courtney Barnett’s songs are slow burns, like a nap in the summer sun. Her jangly guitar strumming belies the irony, and occasional bleakness, of her best lines. The Australian artist’s 2015 debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, garnered a bevy of awards, including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. She recorded the stoner classic Lotta Sea Lice with the perfect partner-in-crime Kurt Vile in 2017, and released her acclaimed sophomore album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, the following year. Barnett’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics are astute, wry, and often self-effacing. She may be a loser, baby (to paraphrase another great slacker-rocker), but you find yourself reflected in her songs. Depression, insecurity, ennui, and general malaise are all there, but her songs don’t lead to bummersville. Her droll monotone and observational riffs recall the great one-liners of comic legend Steven Wright, but her witty grandeur and vulnerability is more reminiscent of Leonard Cohen. Her catchy choruses, however, lift, twist, and soar out of the darkness. She’s also not afraid of having a little pop sensibility, especially on her most recent record, Things Take Time, Take Time. Recorded during the pandemic and released in November 2021, the latest album is sparse—Barnett on guitar, bass, piano, and vocals, with Warpaint‘s Stella Mozgawa looping in some stuttering drum machine and synthesizer. It’s pared down, but it may also be Barnett’s most optimistic, even romantic record. There’s still a feeling of loss and restlessness, but the songwriter shrugs off the worst, offering quasi-inspirational advice to just calm down and not give up quite yet. For the first week of February, she plays two shows at the 9:30 Club. Shamir, the genre- and gender-bending artist, will open the show, displaying his gorgeous countertenor and kaleidoscopic oeuvre (at age 27, he’s releasing his eighth album Heterosexuality later this month). The show starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 and 3 at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $41. Proof of vax required.