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Courtney Barnett sharpens her direction


Australian singer Courtney Barnett performs during the 41st Paleo Festival Nyon, in Nyon, Switzerland, 19 July 2016. The open-air music festival, the largest in the western part of Switzerland, runs from 19 to 24 July. EPA/ANTHONY ANEX

Most women know the strange fear that can overtake when walking through a park alone at night time.

Courtney Barnett articulates it on her song Nameless, Faceless, just one of the 10 punchy new tracks on her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel.

"I want to walk through the park in the dark/Men are scared that women will laugh at them/I want to walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them/I hold my keys between my fingers," Barnett sings.

There's no denying the timing of the sentiment. In an age of #MeToo, Barnett has been a vocal supporter of movements against misogyny and signed an open letter alongside hundreds of others against sexism in the Australian music industry under #MeNoMore.

"There's never a solid time.It's always a good time to talk about it but I guess it definitely came up," Barnett told AAP about the timing of Nameless, Faceless.

"I probably wrote that song a year or so ago, but it's been years of thought."

While her first album examined the Melbourne singer-songwriter's internal mind, Tell Me How You Really Feel shows moments like this where Barnett reflects outward.

The album moves from feelings of pessimism to hope, but what does she feel pessimistic about?

"Just the world in general," she said.



"Same as what everyone else would probably be feeling, just because it can be a horrible place. "

But everyone doesn't have Barnett's ability to articulate those feelings in witty prose that's become even sharper on this record than her first award-winning album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

"Words are so powerful and that's why I've alway been so careful with them and spent so much time writing them," she said.

She teams this economy of language with driving riffs as her music edges further towards garage-rock.

It's a powerful and potent combination and makes Barnett's observations feel even more vital. But to her it's just a way of understanding the ever-changing world.

"That's what I feel like my writing always is, nothing too extreme. It's just taking the world around me and trying to make sense of it in whatever way," she said.

*Tell Me How You Really Feel is out now. Courtney Barnett will tour Australia and New Zealand in August.

© AAP 2018