Honey From The Tombs

Amy Millan

Arts & Crafts International, 2006


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


After Honey From The Tombs finishes its brief run on your CD player, it’s inevitable for the Neko Case comparisons to emerge. Both artists have strong country elements running throughout their albums, both contribute to Canadian supergroups (Case with The New Pornographers, Millan with the much-beloved Broken Social Scene) and both weave elements of David Lynch-like film noir into their albums.

That said, give Honey From The Tombs an honest ear to prove itself and you will be rewarded. While Case’s latest output weighs heavily on mythology and devastating character profiles, Millan is content in reveling in a mood (usually melancholy and morose). my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As well-worn as the topics of loneliness and lost love are, credit Millan for being able to come up with simplistic lyrics that somehow sound fresh. “I feel more burdened as the bourbon starts to seep,” she laments on “Blue in Yr Eye.” On “Skinny Boy” we see a skinny boy (go figure) “all bones no lies” who has lips “I could spend a day with.” In that song, listeners get a vivid sketch of a character -- and they’re barely through the first stanza.

Alcohol plays a recurring theme in Honey From The Tombs. In addition to the obvious titles “He Brings Out The Whiskey in Me” and “Pour Me Another,” some of the other songs sound tailored for a hard-drinking night (such as the Irish pub swing of “Ruby II”). For some music geeks, this honesty may seem overly cloying, but it’s likely that most fans will be able to forgive some of Millan’s occasional lyrical excesses for the frankness of a line like “It’s quarter dawn and the bottle’s gone / Go to sleep before the sun gets strong.”

Millan’s band provide enough musical diversity to keep Honey from veering into piano bar territory. On “Headsfull,” Sir Ian Blurton provides a great barroom percussion while guitarists Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning lay down a bluesy shuffle. The looping percussion of “Wayward and Parliament” can almost be described as trip-hop (Blurton’s work on this track is cited as “weird noise” in the liner notes.).

As a debut, Honey From The Tombs may not be a head-turner, but it will quickly be welcomed in a lonely late-night CD mix with a good flow of whiskey and cigarettes for good measure. Yes, we already have a Neko Case for late-night soundtracks. But Millan proves there’s plenty of room for another wary voice of the lost and weary.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2006 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arts & Crafts International, and is used for informational purposes only.