Stars’ Amy Millan goes acoustic bluegrass and country with her new solo effort, “Honey From the Tombs” (Arts & Crafts), and while comparisons to Jenny Lewis’ solo effort with the Watson Twins are inevitable, Millan succeeds with instrumentation just as successfully as Lewis did with her harmonies and vocals. Acoustic guitars, pianos, mandolins, banjos, strings and others make their way onto Millan’s sometimes-breathtaking, sometimes-overbearing record, her breathy, nourished voice stainless as always, and her backup players prominent. “Losin You” opens the record simply, a quick, sad song to set the tone. “Skinny Boy” is the best old Liz Phair song that Phair didn’t write, as Millan croons “You’ve got lips I could spend a day with,” amongst strange arrangements of guitars, heavy drums, keyboards and effects. It’s pretty and dirty at once. Other songs find Millan confessing her love of bourbon—like “He Brings Out the Whiskey in Me” and “Pour Me Another”—and the near-violent banjo in “Blue in Yr Eye” would send you into a seizure if you weren’t forced to realize how amazing the musicianship actually is. “Honey From the Tombs,” while it’s doubtful to have the lasting effects of Stars’ recent “Set Yourself on Fire,” shouldn’t be missed. (Tom Lynch)
September 30 at Park West.