It sounds a bit like Harry Potter’s wand, but when blues and roots performer Tracey Barnett played her Cole Clark guitar to the luthier who was fixing it, he was blown away by the sounds she brought out of the ordinary-looking instrument – telling her “that guitar was made for you.”
I think ‘holy crap!’ I can’t believe that my music is having such an impact on people.Tracey Barnett
And the passionate Bridgetown-based guitarist agreed with his thoughts, saying she had already decided to cancel her savings plan for a more expensive Maton when she discovered this guitar because picking up the Cole Clark Fat Lady 2 was like “coming home”.
“I kept going back to the Cole Clark, thinking ‘this is home, this is me’,” she said.
“It’s in your fingers, it’s how you play it – whether you pull it back or rev it up,” she said.
She plays two differently-tuned Fat Ladies when she is on-stage and loves toying with the sounds she gets out of them.
“They are both made out of the same timber but with different tonal qualities,” she said.
“I love experimenting with different tunings and changing the tension and I am always learning and growing and chasing the perfect sound.
“It is fascinating that you can get so many different sounds out of the one instrument.”
The high-energy blues and roots sound for which she has become known feature on her new single Gotta get out, which was released on 11 October.
The song has more of the passionate, loud and raw blues and roots sound that audiences associate with Tracey’s performances, with the power of solid rhythm, harmonica and stomp.
The song bears the influence of WA local John Butler – the musician who inspired Tracey to pick up an acoustic guitar years ago when he was an unknown on the street at Bridgetown.
“Until I saw him I had never known that acoustic guitar could be so diverse – both soft and nurturing and loud and raucous – he is a phenomenal player.”
Tracey’s new song is an anthem of empowerment.
She said that writing it was about pushing depression and anxiety out of her life – ejecting herself from their trap and living the life that she chooses.
She said the song resonated with audiences because people were swept up in its powerful energy.
“They interpret it in the way that suits them as they hear it,” she said.
“I absolutely freakin’ love playing it.
“It is an affirmation – it didn’t come about negatively – it’s descriptive of what I was feeling and it was empowering to write it.
“The song is cathartic for anyone going through a space in life which they need to get out of.”
While guitar-playing is something she strives to develop, she said the experience of being a songwriter was sometimes other-worldly.
“When I’m writing a song, I haven’t written it,” she said.
“The song was already out there, it already existed, and it is just my responsibility to bring that particular creation to the world.”
She said the best feeling was looking into the crowd and seeing audience members singing the words to her songs – particularly when she plays venues on the other side of the country to her Bridgetown home.
It is not uncommon for Tracey to be contacted by fans from around the country asking when she is touring their region again, and telling her the impact her songs have had on their lives.
“It baffles me a little bit when I’m in a small venue (in eastern states) with people right in front of me, who are singing every single word of my songs.
“I think ‘holy crap!’ I can’t believe that my music is having such an impact on people.”
She said this realisation, in an industry that can be fuelled by ego and a selfish artistic journey, made her feel grateful that she could make a meaningful contribution to the world.
“It’s the ultimate as a musician if your music has connected with someone closely and impacts their life.”
“It means this is not a completely selfish journey, it’s not all ego-based and image-driven.”
TRACEY BARNETT – ‘GOTTA GET OUT’ WA PROMO TOUR
13 Oct Launch Event – The River, WA Guitar Festival, Margaret River
20 Oct Good Cartel, Broome
20 Oct Matso’s Brewery, Broome
24 Oct Froth Craft, Exmouth
25 Oct Gascoyne Hotel, Carnarvon
26 Oct Monkey Bar, Monkey Mia
27 Oct Finlay’s, Kalbarri
2 Nov WAM Festival, Perth
9-10 Nov Blues at Bridgetown Festival, Bridgetown