I CAN remember only a few times I’ve heard a song and immediately known I was hearing a major talent, someone I’d be paying attention to for years to come. The Smiths, Liz Phair, Pavement, Thelonious Monk, and Glenn Gould have all struck me that way. Time will tell if she really belongs in their company, but the Aussie singer-songwriter knocked me out with her song “Avant Gardener.” I could tell that behind a slack delivery and seemingly disengaged guitar style there was something serious.
Further exposure, and last year’s album with Kurt Vile, Lotta See Lice, has only reinforced my first impression. It doesn’t hurt that despite her tender years she’s mining the ’90s indie tradition of distorted guitars like someone born two decades earlier.
Barnett, who has a very fine new LP and a May 10 show at LA’s Pico Union Project, spoke to me about her childhood and adult reading for my All the Poets column. Turns out she started as a bit of a library rat.
Barnett is a famously guarded interview, but I found her both open and enthusiastic. Our full conversation is here.