Ali Barter is a Melbourne-based singer and songwriter who first rose to fame after winning the 2013 Triple J Unearthed competition thanks to her incredible first EP, Trip.
As an avid fan, I was over the moon when she released her first album earlier this year, A Suitable Girl.
One of Ali’s defining features is her deeply personal lyrics, which mirror the confessional writing style of artists like Alanis Morissette. In contrast, her musical style draws upon legendary influences like Nirvana and The Pixies, adopting the quiet verse and loud chorus technique so expertly integrated into many of their songs. Ali’s style also seems to take inspiration from the gorgeous blues rock sound of artists like Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks.
One of the most incredible songs on the album is Girlie Bits, which was originally released as a single in 2016. This track is the one Ali is best known for, and there’s a very good reason it ranked 58 on the Triple J Hottest 100 this year. For me, this song is up there with some of the greatest feminist anthems in music history, such as Bikini Kill’s ‘Rebel Girl’ and Hole’s ‘Miss World’. Lyrics like “give us a smile baby” are reminiscent of being cat-called on the street, while questions raised in the song go to the very core of gender identity, such as, “What’s a woman if she starts a fight?” Ali described the tune as being about “the cage of what we expect of women and this idea of femininity and how to fit within it,” and the track deals with those issues brilliantly.
Far Away is another standout track which deals with the themes of isolation and being trapped within the monotony of daily life. Ali’s vocals on the track are hauntingly beautiful, and it’s the type of song that truly draws the listener in. The first time I heard this track, it truly sent chills up my spine.
Please Stay, a beautiful ballad with emotionally-charged lyrics, is my personal favourite on the album. The song is gentle but powerful and deals with the emotional rollercoaster of a modern relationship. The song is written from the perspective of a woman making an appeal to her lover to stay with her, despite her constantly pushing them away. It is genuinely a gorgeous song, which has certainly not received the recognition it deserves.
Ali Barter’s incredible first album has established her as a force to reckon with in the Australian music industry, and I’m sure we’ll see big things from her in the future.