Amy Millan – Masters of the Burial

Arts & Crafts

Amy Millan’s 2006 album Honey from the Tombs was one of the most unexpected releases from the Arts & Crafts canon. Millan’s other major venture Stars is one of the purest electro-pop bands in the country so for her first solo effort to be a collection of whisky-smoked country tunes was a shock to the system. Masters of the Burial is more of the same as if to nail home the point that she wasn’t joking the first time around. The album is instantly sweet and wistful like its predecessor but it provides absolutely no evidence of forward progress in Millan’s songwriting.

Masters of the Burial is pretty harmless stuff — the perfect soundtrack to staring into your drink and wondering what you’re doing awake at this time of night. Still if nothing else on the album inspires strong feelings one way or the other one track certainly does: Millan’s take on Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” It’s one of the most ill-conceived covers in recent memory. Slide guitar and a rumbling snare drum serve no purpose other than to strip the original of its emotional impact and Millan’s vocal tendency to get quieter as she nears the end of each line doesn’t serve the lyrical payoffs.

Masters builds up some goodwill here and there and Millan’s voice is sweet enough that you’ll forgive some of her weirder choices — but not all of them.