Courtney Barnett is not easily fazed.
The 27-year-old Australian first drew notice in the U.S. at the 2013 CMJ Music Festival in New York City when the likes of Rolling Stone and The New York Times pointed her out as a festival highlight. Promoting her Double EP: Sea of Split Peas (one of a slew of EP’s she has released on her own Milk! Records), Barnett’s song “Avant Gardener” was an early sign of her keenly observational lyrics and deadpan vocal delivery.
However, that was nothing in comparison to the seemingly universal praise her full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, has garnered this year. She launches her biggest North American tour to date on Monday at a sold-out Sinclair in Cambridge, and will return to the area to play the Newport Folk Festival in July, but seems to be taking her success in a decidedly moderate stride.
“Nah,” she says via email from home in Oz where she’s currently playing dates when asked if she feels there’s more at stake on this trip. “It’s just a pleasure to climb up on stages all around the world and sing my songs.”
Her response is similarly low-key when asked what she was doing in that time period between the initial CMJ buzz and her current turn as Next Big Thing. “I was just kinda’ getting on with life,” she says before continuing with the sort of organic stream of consciousness that highlights her best work. “Doing the washing, hanging the washing out, taking the washing off the line.”
That sort of thinking has endeared her to fans drawn to her uniquely offbeat worldview and impressive melodic sensibilities, drawing often from the best elements of 90’s alt-rock. That fan affection is not lost on Barnett. “It’s totally awesome, I’m stoked that so many people relate to the words and the music,” she says in what is as close to gushing as one can imagine from her before she admits, “Of course, it’s slightly terrifying to release your most vulnerable thoughts out into the world…”
And her love for the 90’s was not lost when Bay State native son and Barnett favorite, Evan Dando, joined her onstage in December in Melbourne, for a duet on the Lemonheads’ own uniquely offbeat worldview ditty, “Being Around.” “I love that song so much, the first time I heard it I was like ‘Goddamn it, that’s the song I’ve been trying to write,’” Barnett reveals. “It was a real treat to sing with Evan Dando, he’s a real nice guy with the voice of an angel.”
COURTNEY BARNETT w/ CHASTITY BELT AND DARREN HANLON. THE SINCLAIR, 52 CHURCH ST., CAMBRIDGE. MON 5.18/18+/SOLD OUT.