No Morphine No Lilies is an album of music that tries very hard to be complex. It has melodies and blocks of chords, mostly composed by the drummer herself, that largely stifle the listening experience, making you wonder “what was the point of all that awkward harmony and abrupt tempo changes?” An easy answer would be to show us all just how well they can all play. When pianist Myra Melford is in your band and the likes of Steven Bernstein and Erik Friedlander stop by the studio to lend a hand, then the musicianship of your band is never debatable.
Only the Miller originals “Spotswood Drive” and “Sun Comes Up the Reservoir” feel true-blue sincere. The frequent Monk-dropping in “Six Nettes”, a composition by Lisa Parrott, can make for a fun piece of work if you don’t focus on the bewildering number of musical changes taking place. The rest of No Morphine No Lilies is a collision of Miller’s splashy ideas and Jenny Scheinman’s vacuous performances. This is all while still overlooking the Rachel Friedman vocal performance of the Jessica Lurie original “Once” with this lyrical nugget: “When I was young / the corn it ran high / it reached to the sun / and it kissed to the sky / But all that’s long gone / it’s been taken away / to make room for a strip mall / and packaged up dreams”.