Recorded in October of 2019, nearly a year-and-a-half after the May 2018 release of her second album Tell Me How You Really Feel, MTV Unplugged: Live in Melbourne finds Courtney Barnett choosing collaboration over intimacy. Over the course of its tight eight songs, Barnett is alone with guitar only once: "Untitled (Play It on Repeat)," a lightly dreamy song unveiled upon this occasion. Otherwise, she's supported by her regular band of bassist Bones Sloane and drummer Dave Mudie, along with cellist Lucy Waldron, and she invites many peers and idols to share the stage. Paul Kelly, Evelyn Ida Morris, and Marlon Williams, musicians all better-known in Australia than America, all make cameos, and Barnett also plays to her hometown crowd by covering songs by the trio Seeker Lover Keeper and indigenous Australian singer/songwriter Archie Roach. The boosterism is evident but it's not emphasized. Like Barnett's songs and delivery, it's casually, wryly matter of fact, a quality that is accentuated by the relatively quiet surroundings and choice of midtempo, ramshackle material. The stakes may be modest but the charm is considerable, since the setting plays to Barnett's idiosyncrasies as a singer/songwriter.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine