The breakup record is one of the most popular genres of music in the world. Whether you were lying on your bed crying into your pillow or cruising around your exes neighborhood blasting “your song,” music plays a huge part in our relationships and an even bigger part in the healing process. For those of us who are non-musicians, we can merely listen and empathize. Songwriters get to lay it all out there for us, and Briar Rabbit has done just that on his new record, From Your Bones.
It’s been about a year since we started to hear little tidbits of info about BR working on something new to follow his 2011 EP The Great Routine. In July we got to hear the first single, “So Long” and the anticipation level instantly went to DefCon 4. A month or so later he played some shows made up of mostly new material. I was lucky enough to be at Schubas the night he was in Chicago, and it sounded great. Now I’ve heard From Your Bones in its entirety, and it is even better than my high expectations had me hoping it would be.
The best song on the album, in my opinion, comes late in the running. “Bad Blood” gets my vote because it’s the best overall composition. It opens with BR on acoustic and vocals before opening up with a crashing drum and organ that floats in and out of the foreground. It features some great lines (“So when I got it stuck in my brain, that I love your forever was more than a phrase I couldn’t have been more wrong. All I got was a year and a handful of songs.”) and a Nels Cline-esque guitar solo by Jeff Parker that separates this tune from all the others on From Your Bones.
This is BR’s most collaborative record to date, and I think it’s opened up a lot of possibilities for him as a songwriter. It’s allowed him to write without worrying about how to play the songs all himself. If this had been another completely solo effort, I don’t think we would have heard “Sleepwalking,” which would have been a damn shame. It has Ben Folds Five-ish harmonies in the refrain and one of those melodies that feels familiar and brand new at the same time.
When I heard the album performed live, my favorite song was “Crooked Teeth.” I think it was more the passion and energy it was delivered with that set it apart from the others. It was one of the last songs, but BR’s voice came through powerful and confident. The song isn’t unlike something you may hear on Josh Ritter’s Hello Starling album, which is a great place to be for any singer/songwriter.
With From Your Bones Briar Rabbit announces himself as a major contender for your “Best Of What’s Next” consideration. His songwriting craft is mature far beyond his years, and his ability to deliver his words with emotional resonance is a skill most singers envy. It isn’t that From Your Bones is a great record that impresses me. It is a great record, but what I really love about it is the potential that Briar Rabbit lays out in front of us. He’s an artist that will always leave us wanting more, and he seems keen to keep delivering.
You can pre-order a copy of From Your Bones, which comes out next week, on Briar Rabbit’s website. While there you can also download “So Long” for free and check out his upcoming tour dates. He’ll be playing a release show here in Chicago on Saturday January 25th at Martyrs with Dirty Pigeons, Julia Klee, and Todd Kessler from NBC’s hit show “The Voice.”
Next Tuesday night, the 22nd of January, I’ll be hosting a live conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FromYourBonesLive