NPR Song Of The Day: Amy Millan, ‘Skinny Boy’

Amy Millan's Honey From The Tombs is out now.
Amy Millan’s Honey From The Tombs is out now.

I have another feature for NPR’s Song of the Day, on “Skinny Boy,” a new song from Stars and Broken Social Scene singer Amy Millan. Read it here.

A Mournful Longing Beneath The Surface

“Skinny Boy” by Amy Millan from Honey From the Tombs

It’s not a stretch to find similarities between Amy Millan’s rootsy solo debut and the recent work of Neko Case or Jenny Lewis: Upon first listen to Honey from the Tombs, it’s easy to draw comparisons to their recent albums. But as Millan makes her own solo transition into roots music, she finds her own delicate niche.

Best known as a member of the Canadian pop-rock groups Stars and Broken Social Scene, Millan ditches some of these bands’ slick sheen and anthemic pop for a more organic and earnest sound. Drawing on themes of love and loneliness, she gives in to her country whims and offers her own take on the whiskey-drenched confessional. It might seem a peculiar fit, but Millan’s haunting, airy voice allows her a seamless segue into acoustic alt-country and flatpicking bluegrass.

“Skinny Boy” successfully dances between both genres, and with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning providing assistance, the song benefits from the lush rhythmic drive that murmurs underneath her. Millan abandons her guarded indie-rock mystique in favor of heavy-hearted lyrical intimacy. Her voice quivers amid a teary breakdown as she sings, “It’s sordid and I can’t find my feet / and you’ve got lips I could spend a day with.” While Millan exudes breathy sensuality, the reverb-heavy wash of vocals, guitars and drums suggests a mournful longing that resonates just below the surface.