If you have any interest in the sounds of modern acoustic rock, it is likely that this 29-year old singer-songwriter has already caught your attention. Barns Courtney has amassed an increasingly large following since his 2017 breakout releases, The Dull Drums EP and The Attractions of Youth album. Since then, he has released another full length album, 404, and performed internationally, opening for stars like The Who, headlining his own tour, and performing major festivals like Lollapalooza, the Governors Ball, Pinkpop Festival, and more. While he maintains a strong folk sound, his work feels blues-inspired and even reaches into the punk and garage rock scenes at times. On July 10, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Courtney released a new EP, Hard To Be Alone, delivering an intimate and relatable title track for his listeners.
The title song, “Hard To Be Alone,” is a cathartic daydream as Courtney mourns a lost love and reconciles with the general feeling of loneliness. He calls out, “When you’re on your own beneath the lonely lights/Oh, darling, if I ever cross your mind/Won’t you let me know?” This wishful theme is felt in the song’s stripped-down quality. Accompanied almost solely by a quiet guitar, Courtney maintains his deep, rich vocal tones but explores a higher register as well, adding a softer dimension to this track. While “Hard To Be Alone” is not as explosive or dynamic as some of Courtney’s other tracks, it’s his control and emotion that are so captivating. Listeners are comforted in the idea that everybody feels lost sometimes. He recalls, “Moved to the big city and called it home/Oh, what a crowded place to live alone.” Its simplicity and gentleness cultivate that sense of longing and solitary contemplation. This theme is even more appropriate for a world in quarantine due to COVID-19. Courtney released a music video for this track featuring a series of clips from his recent tour, nodding to better times of live music and community. I’m certain that almost everyone can find a piece of themselves on this track, especially now.
Much like his discography, the rest of the Hard To Be Alone EP shows an expansive range of emotions and sounds, and it is definitely worth the listen. Because of his versatility, fans of The Strokes, The Raconteurs, Cage the Elephant, or The Black Keys should keep an eye out for this rising star. In fact, followers of many modern rock sub-genres would appreciate his unique talent. Barns Courtney will not be a name to fade away any time soon.
Resources & Images
“Barns Courtney Drops His New Emotional Tune ‘Hard To Be Alone.’” Wonderland, 10 July 2020, www.wonderlandmagazine.com/2020/07/10/premiere-barns-courtney-hard-to-be-alone/.
“Barns Courtney’s Concert History.” Barns Courtney’s Concert & Tour History | Concert Archives, www.concertarchives.org/bands/barns-courtney?page=2.
“Barns Courtney – Hard To Be Alone.” Genius, 10 July 2020, genius.com/Barns-courtney-hard-to-be-alone-lyrics.
Rolling Stone. “10 New Artists You Need to Know Now.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 25 June 2018, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/10-new-artists-you-need-to-know-october-2017-201356/barns-courtney-2-201415/.
“Takeover Tuesday Playlist: Barns Courtney’s Tunes For ‘Moonlight Lovers,’ With Billie Eilish, Beach House & More.” Billboard, 26 Feb. 2019, www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/8498865/barns-courtney-playlist-takeover-tuesday.
Vigil, Dom. “Barns Courtney Releases New EP, ‘Hard To Be Alone.’” Prelude Press, 10 July 2020, preludepress.com/news/2020/7/10/barns-courtney-releases-new-ep-hard-to-be-alone/.
Claudia is an incoming junior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, studying Communication and Media and Performing Arts Management and Entrepreneurship. Music has always been an important part of her life, and her passion only continues to grow. For several years, she worked at her local record store, Dearborn Music, where she realized her desire to connect people with the music that they love. On campus, she is involved in the student organization, MUSIC Matters, where she works to plan and execute community events like live shows for local artists and their annual lifestyle festival, Springfest, headlined each year by a major artist. She enjoys getting involved in the Detroit and Ann Arbor music scenes, attending shows and festivals and shopping to build her vinyl collection. She is interested in talent agency and live performance production and hopes to learn about artist development and record label operations through her internship at Music Noises.