Amy Millan

Honey from the Tombs

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Amy Millan has already proven herself a talented indie pop singer with her bands Stars and Broken Social Scene, so the fact that her voice carries over so well to other genres should come as no surprise. In her debut solo album, Honey from the Tombs, Millan explores her folkier side, with songs (all of which were written long before her Stars days) that tell tales of lost love and regret, an acoustic guitar and her own layered vocals her only constant companions. Not that the album is a lonely affair: Millan enlists plenty of help to help fill out her sound. There's guitar and vocal assistance from Dan and Jenny Whiteley (from Crazy Strings), as well as additional instrumentation from both sets of bandmates. But even though there's a certain lushness to the record, the words, and Millan's voice, are so forlorn that the overwhelming sentiment that comes through is loneliness, as if the players behind her are simply illusions, as if in fact she is there by herself. And it's this particular emotion that sits so calmly within the notes that makes Honey from the Tombs more than just another folk album. The songs themselves, if taken apart structurally, are no better and no worse than any other ones: they're musically sound but not extraordinary, and while there are some great, poetic lines, most of the actual power in Millan's work is from the sincerity in the simplicity of it all. "Singing's always easy when you're drinking," she admits, "So pour me up another before bed." She allows herself to show a weakness that's all too human, the weakness of old lovers who will never be forgotten, of distant memories still sharp like broken whiskey bottles. And it's precisely that weakness that makes Honey from the Tombs such a compelling and touching record. It doesn't have to be complicated by abstract imagery or unusual chords, because it already has everything it needs.

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