Ethan Miller was worn down by the grind of the music business after the 2012 release of “The Russian Wilds,” the third album from Bay Area outfit Howlin Rain.
“I walked out of the back of my major label run and the first nine years of Howlin Rain with no band, no label, no forseeable immediate move forward and a figurative suitcase full of songs,” Miller said. “I still wanted to make records. I wanted to track the journey from nothingness back to creation in musical form in a set of three albums and rock bottom was the perfect place to start from.”
That trilogy launches with the fantastic “Mansion Songs.” It’s an album filled with raw emotion and represents the best work of Miller’s career to date. Yearning ballads “Restless” and “Lucy Fairchild” are the highlights here, but Howlin Rain also impress on “Meet Me in the Wheat,” “Coliseum,” “The New Age” and “Ceiling Fan.” I’ll be eagerly awaiting Miller’s next installment. (Jeffrey Sisk)