Courtney Barnett is on track to become the first two-time winner of the prestigious Australian Music Prize, the shortlist for which was announced this morning.

The Melbourne-based singer and songwriter struck gold with her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, which opened and peaked at No. 2 in Australia, No. 9 in the U.K. and No. 22 in the U.S. and cracks the shortlist for the 14th annual AMP.  It’s something of a happy place for Barnett, who won the AMP for her critically-lauded 2015 debut Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit.

courtney barnett tell me how you really feel artwork
Courtney Barnett’s ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’

The Prize’s judges have narrowed down the 85-set longlist into a tight, nine-title shortlist which reflect “Australia’s most important releases of 2018,” organisers say.

True to form, the super-nine are a kick-arse mix of electronic, indie, art-rock, shimmery pop, alt-folk and, in the case of Gurrumul’s chart-topping posthumous release Djarimirri, some utterly unique indigenous art.

“As each year starts to tick by you think it’ll be easier than the last to settle on the nine. Then the excellent albums start to stack up and the judging panel is again faced with a Herculean task of collectively agreeing – and 2018 was no different,” comments journalist Kate Hennessy, a member of the 21-member judging panel.

“Even as people who listen constantly to Australian music, the judges are always surprised by new discoveries, which are by no means always new artists, either. This discovery is one of the prize’s most rewarding and important roles. Hennessy adds, “we are all really proud of the breadth of Australian music evidenced by this year’s shortlist.”

Gurrumul
Gurrumul

Looking at the finalists, “what’s thrilling isn’t just that there were more than 400 albums from which to choose and somehow we got it down to nine, but that the best of 2018 had such breadth as well as depth,” said judge and former Sydney Morning Herald music writer Bernard Zuel. “From neo-classical intersecting with traditional indigenous and a record which captured the sounds of the world as heard through Australian ears to electronica with a hard edge, jazz and rock, there was so much to sink teeth into. How good is it that artists still see what an album can do?”

The winner will receive a cheque for $30,000, contributed by PPCA, during a ceremony in Melbourne on March 7. The judges’ final decision will be made earlier in the day.

14th Annual Australian Music Prize Shortlist
Abbe May – Fruit
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Dead Can Dance – Dionysus
Grand Salvo – Sea Glass
Gurrumul – Djarimirri
Laura Jean – Devotion
The Presets – Hi Viz
Rolling Backouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
Sam Anning – Across A Field As Vast As One