CD REVIEW – Courtney Barnett “I’ve got a friend called Emily Ferris”


This is the first time I’ve reviewed a CD on this blog. You may have noticed I have posted songs for you — and I’ve ensured they were all killer-tracks — I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. But in doing so I haven’t provided much insight or real critique. So here is me being all like, forensic and shit.

I’ll start with the packaging and the art, because I am a fan of bands that put some effort into their CD art and text. Ultimately it’s about disclosure. A lot of bands/artists are a bit “let my music speak for itself”. Blah. I find this excruciating and cause I am a bit of an over-sharer, this “tortured, mysterious artist” stuff, is a bit tragic.

The other thing that is slightly influencing my judgement is I got to physically hold this CD. And I do like that experience.  And with iTunes and music blogs and HypeMachine this activity is getting very, very rare. In fact I recently tried to buy physical CDs of not-that-obscure artists only to be denied at the three stores I tried to source them.

So the art is austere, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I love line art. I love black-and-white. It’s cute, it’s to-the-point. And I love maps and specifically this type of map – “a treasure map”. It has plenty of in-jokes and personal stuff. Nice. All these jokes and detail went straight over my head, but well done all the same.

But the liner-notes are distinctly NOT “to-the-point”. It’s all pretty complex. I might be stupid but I really didn’t understand them. There were a lot of people playing on this CD and although I assume the point is to credit all those concerned – I am a bit befuddled as to who did what. But who cares, right?


Ok. The music. As you know I was hooked on Courtney after randomly hearing the “Lance” song on the radio. And it goes without saying – I don’t listen to the radio. 🙂

It’s a great song. It feels simple but there’s quite a bit of detail there. I noticed today it seems to have a male voice, a semi-tone lower (and quieter) double-tracking her vocals. INSPIRED.

And delving into the CD I can safely say I was pretty impressed by the other tracks. Initially it feels like a single with a bunch of b-sides* tacked on. Maybe that impression was gained by the fact every second song descends into a slightly self-indulgent jam towards the end. But…once you get that vibe the songs make a bit more sense —ignoring one of those annoyingly-eccentric-dischordant-piano-solos at the end of “Porcelain”.

I can really relate to everything in “Are you looking after yourself”. Particularly the “My friends play in bands – they are better than everything on radio” sentiment.

It does feel a bit like this EP —  from packaging, to title, to musical production, and to the actual chemistry of the song’s writing — is specifically made for (and with) her group of friends, her parents and family, her band-circle and ultimately — herself. And that is definitely not a criticism. In fact I think that is fucking cool. Pleasing these people will deliver her the most joy in life, not getting my attention or praise. But the personality, the sharing, is what will endear her to you.

* I am a big fan of b-sides btw.

1 thought on “CD REVIEW – Courtney Barnett “I’ve got a friend called Emily Ferris”

  1. Hi. Been looking for a copy of this for a while now and coming up blanks. Know anybody who has one they might want to offload?

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