‘Things Take Time, Take Time’ Embodies the Sadness & Sweetness of Yearning

A delightfully classy and uncannily raw singer-songwriter, Courtney Barnett stuns fans just as much as she relates to them on newly released full-length LP.

Longing and missing never felt so relatable as in 2021 after more than a year of travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders around the globe. For acclaimed musician and songwriter Courtney Barnett, the commands coincided with her own feelings of personal burnout. Moving to Melbourne and living alone for the first time, she hit her own reset button. The result is Things Take Time, Take Time, a recharged follow-up to 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel and the artist’s third solo album.

Barnett teamed up with longtime friend, and collaborator, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, for Take Time. The partnership brings us a series of endearing reflections and catchy beats that come through as vignettes. “Rae Street” is impossible to resist listening to on repeat. The tune starts off with a string of general observations from the apartment window, then gives us a heady chorus, “Time is money and money is no man’s friend.” Barnett’s casual and deep musings both rest comfortably against her gentle guitar strums and a straight-forward drum machine beat. 

The pulse of the percussion in “Sunfair Sundown” is slow and almost surfy sounding. It works like a pattering heartbeat as Barnett’s repetition of the line, “and I don’t want you to be alone” impresses its sense of loving kindness on our heartstrings. This is one of the songs on Takes Time that is infused with Barnett’s charm. 

Equally as endearing is the song, “Before You Gotta Go.” At first, it recalls the worst of break-up behaviors, but then Barnett opens herself up. She expresses the higher self we all hope to channel during the throes of a harrowing separation, “Before you gotta go go go/I wanted you to know/You’re always on my mind/You’re always on my mind/If something were to happen my dear/I wouldn’t want the last words you hear/To be unkind/To be unkind.” 

“Here’s The Thing” is wistful and contemplative. The Wuhlitzer gives the tune a hint of Cyndi Lauper-esque sound. In the song, Barnett runs down a list of ways to connect with the object of her longing, but ultimately resigns herself to the feeling sad. Who hasn’t experienced the same emotions in normal times? Layer on some quarantine mandates and despairing feelings swell to insurmountable seeming waves. The musicality of “Here’s The Thing” gives the perfect weight to Barnett’s lyrics. 

Where Things Take Time, Take Time is most buoyant is on “Write A List of Things To Look Forward To,” “Take it Day By Day,” and “Turning Green.” These songs chronicle the whimsical exchanges between friends and loved ones that reeled us in from being totally adrift in the seas of isolation. In “Turning Green,” excitement for a friend’s new relationship is like helium in a once empty balloon. “I’ve never seen you so happy/Trees are turning green in the springtime…” the listen feels like floating on happy clouds. While “Write A List of Things To Look Forward To” highlights the little niceties we needed to preserve our sanity with lyrics like “Nobody knows why we keep trying/And so, on it goes/I’m looking forward to the next letter that I get from you.” This paired with upbeat and laidback guitar sounds (frankly, the lead-in is reminiscent Real Estate’s signature sound) makes the song a light and airy listen. 

“If I Don’t Hear from You Tonight” has Barnett contemplating the starscape while making the courageous move to confess her love! The song evokes a contagious sense of giddiness which comes from visuals of friends gossiping, the pangs of uncertain hopefulness, and the magic aura surrounding romantic new beginnings. Her lyrics are punctuated with electric guitar and cymbals. These give the tune interludes of punched up energy. Try not to smile as Barnett joyfully croons, “Is now an ok time/To tell you that I like you/I wait for your reply/If I don’t hear from you tonight…well, I swear I’ll never mention it again…” 

In “Splendour,” drums slow to a crawl and it’s the closest we get to hearing hints of lustfulness. Take Time is woven with the threads of missing and yearning, but throughout the album these feel easily translated to friends, family and everyday routines. And yet, in “Splendour,” it’s clear that Barnett is missing her romantic partner. The gleeful uncertainty from “If I Don’t Hear from You Tonight’s” object of affection has morphed into the object of Barnett’s desire. “Splendour” has a sexiness that rounds out the album’s sweetness and saves it from into the saccharine. 

Things Take Time, Take Time is a body of work born of its unique pandemic-flavored isolation. With drumbeats like tender heartbeats, red-blooded guitar licks, and clear-eyed lyrics, Things Take Time, Take Time, creates specific shapes and dimensions for feelings of yearning. The palpable longing is sad and sweet. Sitting down with Barnett to hear all about it should be at the top of your list of things to look forward to.