San Francisco’s Bourbon Therapy has released a three-song EP that has emerged from the pandemic like many things; broken down and simplified from last year. As I have noticed in my own life, this isn’t such a bad thing. Where Bourbon Therapy normally performs as a sextet, The You & Me Piano features Aaron and Rebecca Skiles as an intimate two-piece meditating on beginnings and endings with only grand piano, harmonica, and synth accompanying their vocals. In the words of Aaron Skiles “We wanted to give it a feel as if we were in our living room, stuck due to quarantine, and just singing these songs in their rawest form.” The duo succeeds at creating and maintaining an emotional space that invites the listener into a collective feel.
The You & Me Piano opens with “In the Light” and moves swiftly through verses that evoke the journey that the band and many of us have been on in recent months: “We hold the light and shine it on our fears until they die. Now we shine in the light.”
The song then transitions into a long refrain that features a nice blend of vocals, strings, and grand piano. I feel like this song and section are the highlights of The You & Me Piano because sometimes there are sentiments that you just can’t convey with verses and choruses, you need a vamp.
“In The Dark” continues with a soft vocal timbre and the steady piano chord pacing that ties this EP together. There are harmonica flourishes throughout that capitulate the vocal refrains that deal with themes of disagreement, distance, and change. “When I close my eyes there’s a world that don’t exist here anymore. If I close my eyes I’m standing in the dark.”
In The End, completes the EP and sits nicely with the other offerings, and even adds some haunting vocals from the Skiles’ 11-year-old daughter.
In total, The You & Me Piano is a family affair that delivers an intimate aesthetic that reflects the reality that bands have encountered during the pandemic: without the ability to write and record collectively, you do what you must to keep forging ahead creatively speaking. I look forward to hearing what Bourbon Therapy does moving forward.
You can listen to this album on Spotify
Bourbon Therapy was born out of Aaron Skiles’s realization that the best therapy may just be music…and bourbon doesn’t hurt either. After picking up the bass as a freshman at the United States Military Academy, West Point, Aaron bounced around in various rock bands from Seattle to Baltimore to New York to San Francisco. With over 20 years of experience as “just the bass player,” Aaron decided to step out on his own.
Bourbon Therapy is based in Oakland, California. They are an indie rock/alt-country band fronted by the husband and wife duo of Aaron and Rebecca Skiles. Their style of upbeat music combined with downtrodden lyrics is reminiscent of the mid-90’s Counting Crows or Soul Asylum combined with the modern The Head and The Heart or Silver Sun Pickups. By mixing big guitars with piano, strings and even an occasional harmonica, their sound ranges from heavy riff-laden songs to expressive ballads, providing a dynamic range of anthemic tunes.
Bourbon Therapy’s latest album, Hymnals and Hangovers, released on 9/9/16, is an expansive progression from their debut, self-titled album. Highlighting the beautiful vocals of Rebecca Skiles and featuring multi-part harmonies, upbeat instrumentation, and catchy choruses, the album crosses several genres (Americana, 90’s Rock, Folk Rock, Indie Rock, and more) to deliver an emotional, catchy ride from start to finish.