Lily Milo delicately reveals the hidden sides of her heart.
The Ann Arbor indie folk singer-songwriter shares an intimate, poetic journey of self-discovery while navigating between life’s light and dark emotions on Stars Go Out.
“This is the first thing that I’ve ever put out. I’ve wanted to work on music for a really long time. A couple of years ago, I just sat down and said, ‘All right, if you’re gonna do it, then you’re gonna make some music,’ and it’s been awesome,” said Milo, who released the project in September.
Throughout her raw, authentic debut EP, Milo beautifully explores uncharted territories of the soul across six poignant, reflective tracks that uncover internal strength and wisdom. Each Stars Go Out song provides an intense, heartfelt outpouring of emotion from past thoughts, experiences and relationships.
“Most of them are personal. ‘Sandcastles’ is about a friend who passed away. The other ones are feelings that I’ve had and worked through, and part of the reason why it seems like a strange moody mix from the heart is because it’s all very much from the heart,” Milo said.
Gazing at ‘Stars Go Out’
Along with guitarist Dylan Strzynski, Milo openly acknowledges closing a painful chapter while slowly moving toward the future on the folky, hypnotic “Dream of Mine.”
Thoughtful, pulsating acoustic strums and bluesy electric guitars weave a tender six-string symphony as she soulfully sings, “A road can stay parched only so long/As the wind settles in/And the storm moves on/I take my place to leave/This town of tin/I count the days until I see you again.”
“‘Dream of Mine’ took many years to write. Dylan did an amazing job of adding guitar to ‘Dream of Mine.’ He’s very supportive and he’s great to work with.”
Milo’s past continues to haunt her on the melancholic folk-filled blues hymn, “In the Sun.” Somber acoustic strums bring a quiet sense of comfort to her weary mind as she reflects, “Did you know I was lying/When I said I was fine?/I wait in the sun/For this to fade/But there is no one to take my sorrow.”
“For ‘In the Sun,’ I told Dylan that I have these two lines, and he was like, ‘Go for it.’ It just came out, and I was like, ‘Whoa, that feels weird, but cool,’” said Milo with a laugh.
After seeking solace in the sun, Milo shifts to vivid recollections of purchasing fragrant citrus fruit at a “big boutique box store” on “Satsuma.”
Soft, intermittent acoustic strums whisk her to “Baltimore” and “San Francisco” as she recalls, “I eat them and they/Taste like chalk on my teeth/I eat them to remember this grief/And I wonder if my girlfriend knows/How much her ex-girlfriend liked them/And how much she’s hating me now.”
“One of my friends wrote me an email, and I was reading it during my practice time. I had my guitar in my hand, and I started singing it, and I was like, ‘This is a song,’” Milo said.
After composing the six tracks for Stars Go Out, Milo approached Ann Arbor producer and musician Fred Thomas about bringing her debut project to life. The two started recording last fall to bring a sparse, acoustic-centered sound to her earnest collection of songs.
“As soon as I sent him ‘Satsuma,’ he was like, ‘This is cool; we can record together,’ and I was like, ‘This is a dream come true.’ I had told Fred probably seven years ago that I was writing a song, and he said, ‘If you ever want to send me anything, shoot it my way,’” Milo said.
“Fred is such an appreciator of the raw, natural sound, and he did a great job mixing it. The first time I heard what he had recorded, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we can do this.’ It had a very full sound, and he appreciated on ‘Dream of Mine’ how I went very high and low. He said, ‘That is your sound; do not try and change it.’ I thought, ‘OK, cool. I can do that.’”
Hearing Grapevines and Discovering Cautious Hearts
Milo started honing her sound while growing up in Ann Arbor and listening to Marvin Gaye, Vashti Bunyan, Neil Young, J.J. Cale and Leonard Cohen.
“I definitely remember listening to Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ on repeat like a million times, finding a tape and figuring out how to put the song on 10 times in a row. I remember sharing this wall with my sister, and she was like, ‘OK, you have to stop that now.’ I also grew up listening to a lot of stuff my sisters listened to because we’re all very close in age,” said Milo, who later learned guitar.
With a deep appreciation for music, Milo formed her first band, Jenny, seven years ago with her friends and hosted a few house shows. During their Sunday practice sessions, Milo’s bandmates commented on her natural ability to write songs and play guitar.
“It was a really amazing way to express myself. When I’m happy or sad, I pick up a guitar and make random lyrics or funny stories about whatever is happening in front of me. People moved, and our little Sunday night thing disbanded, so I didn’t do anything,” Milo said.
“Then, I was talking to my friend Jenny about it, and she said, ‘If you want this to be your creative practice, then just do it.’ I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna do it.’ I have always liked reading poetry and short stories, so it felt like a nice authentic way to express myself musically and lyrically.”
As an emerging singer-songwriter, Milo continues to grow musically and lyrically through new solo material as well as an indie rock shoegaze duo with Strzynski called Cautious Hearts. In October, they released a dreamy, glistening three-track EP, Three Hits from Heaven, via Bandcamp and Spotify.
“I’m excited to share this other project we’ve been working on and that’s been brewing for years. Dylan has a large musical history with such breadth and depth and is very talented,” she said.