Having clocked in years with Canadian indie mainstays Stars and Broken Social Scene Toronto native Amy Millan struck out on her own in 2006 to release her debut album Honey from the Tombs to mostly favorable reviews, receiving comparisons to Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams.
Arts and Crafts Records will be releasing Amy Millan’s sophomore release, Masters of the Burial, and I must admit, coming into this review the only exposure I had had with Amy Millan was her work with the aforementioned bands. Being a fan of Broken Social Scene and the solo outings of Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, and Leslie Feist I was excited about the prospect of jangly, slightly quirky indie-pop album. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
Masters of the Burial is a very mature record. The majority of the eleven tracks could easily be seen as middle of the road adult contemporary, but in the best way possible. This album is very easy to listen to, relying on softly brushed drums, well placed mandolins and, of course, Millan’s beautiful voice. On tracks like ‘Bruised Ghosts’, ‘Towers’, and the album closer ‘Bound’ it is evident that Millan could easily hold her own with the Allison Krauss’ and the Norah Jones’ of the world, just ask your parents or Brenda in the accounting department if you don’t believe me. When Millan breaks away from the country-tinged folk trappings on tracks like ‘Bury This’, the percussion heavy ‘Day to Day’, and the beautifully haunting ‘Lost Compass’, she truly shines, easily evoking feelings of loss and regret. Plus there is a cover of Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’, if you are into that kind of thing. Like my mama always says “A cover is as a cover does…” (my mama never says that).
While this record won’t be on my end of the year lists, I have nothing but respect for it. It is comforting, and I know it has an audience out there that will love it. I just fear that, with it’s ties to indie rock, it will be shot down before it even has it’s chance to shine.