As human beings, we’re fragile. We laugh, we love, we hurt, and we listen to music about laughing, loving, and hurting. Essentially, isn’t that what most music is about anyways – the human experience? Or, more accurately, love?
Briar Rabbit, also known as Phillip-Michael Scales, might be one of the hardest working musicians in the Chicago music scene, and his absolutely poetic album, From Your Bones, is relatable in all the right ways.
Leading the album is the strong single, “So Long”. It was released back in the summer of 2013, and I’ve been waiting to hear it housed within an album ever since. Disguised as an upbeat song complete with clapping and organ accents, the lyrics tell a different, unexpected story – one of lingering heart ache and rising above it. A resolute song about letting go of that past relationship, “So Long” is an excellent opener to the album, both thematically and aurally.
“Sleepwalking” is a slower tempo song, but it’s light and acoustic-driven. Composition and instrumentation are expert on this track. Prolonged pauses allow Scales’ vocals to really resonate and leave the audience hanging on every word.
A truly touching piece, “Gifted Girl Blues”, follows soon after. The tempo slows and the percussion is emotive with, again, the focus on Briar Rabbit’s message. This focus on lyrical content isn’t anything new for Phillip (he coined the term “thought-pop” for a reason), but it highlights his abilities as a lyricist and songwriter more-so than in earlier albums. The instrumentation is even light and heavily reliant on acoustic guitar, reinforcing Phillip’s stance as a singer-songwriter.
As previously mentioned, thematically From Your Bones deals largely on the topic of love. The lyrics make note of it, and the soft, sensitive tones hint at it, too. Check out the song “Bad Blood” in particular, and tell me you haven’t been there before. The song is relatable from the first few lines, and as the electric guitar solo begins, I can feel a great sense of the release of negativity.
Yes, enjoy this album on a surface level – have the gentle acoustic sounds flow over you and the smooth vocal stylings soothe you. It’s easy on the ears, and that’s a fact. But, I also highly recommend taking the time to fully digest this album’s message, a story of love lost and soul-searching. From Your Bones is full of really insightful lyrics; you might learn something about yourself. This shouldn’t just be another album to rock out to and burn through. You might not find this at college parties or frat houses, but that’s only because it belongs some place so much better. Give it a few spins solo, and let it all sink in. Here, we’ve included the album below so you can check it out right away:
The full-length album, From Your Bones, was released on January 21st. Currently touring in support of the release, the live performance of this album has changed very much from the first time I saw Briar Rabbit in 2011. It’s filled with new insights and new melodies, but just as charming as ever.
UPCOMING MIDWEST SHOWS:
January 31 at Kafe Kerouac in Columbus, OH
February 08 at Billys Lounge in Grand Rapids, MI
February 08 at New Way Bar in Ferndale, MI
February 12 at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH
February 27 at Old Dog Tavern in Kalamazoo, MI
(for full tour schedule, click here)