Our son Cole is our music Sherpa. He guides us up through the dreck and dross of pop culture by introducing us to new artists we'd never find on our own. Our most recent mountain-top experience came by way of Charlotte's birthday (yes, she's finally 30, so stop the jokes about me robbing the cradle) when he gave her the new album from Courtney Barnett.
This Aussie songstress is a folkie/bluesy delight with a sound that's all her own, but with hints of Nirvana, Kathleen Edwards and Bob Dylan thrown in for good measure. She's a singer/songwriter with an ear for witty (snarky) lyrics that are sometimes funny, often insightful and always brilliant.
Here's an example. Her single Avant Gardener tells the story of having an anaphylactic panic attack in the midst of an Australian heat wave, with lyrics like "The paramedic thinks I'm clever cos I play guitar, I think she's clever cos she stops people dying." Sure it's a funny line, but she backs it up with a catchy guitar riff that'll make you want to hum along..."I'm having trouble breathing in..."
The Melbourne-based performer's latest release, A Sea of Split Peas, is available on Amazon and iTunes. It's a terrific album that comes with a built-in hipness factor. If someone asks you where you heard about Courtney Barnett, just wink and say, "My music Sherpa led me to her."
They'll think it's either Cole or Tenzing Norgay. I'm good either way.