Habits Can Be Hard to Break
"How can you take my breath from me without saying a word?" -"Kirksville" Miller Howell's no stranger to the singer-songwriter world of coffeehouses: acoustic guitars competing with schoolbooks and sorority sisters for the crowd's attention. However, he's known the other side of the fence, too: that rock 'n' roll grit of seedy bars and dark clubs and soundmen named Rico. In a previous life, Howell was the frontman for indie rock quartet Cheating Kay, a band that formed while he was in college and lasted into early adulthood. The band even spurred a romance; he married the band's female singer. Through two full-length albums, an EP and too many traversed Midwest miles to count, Howell found himself growing both as a person and songwriter. "The people in that band taught me how to be a musician," he says. "How to expand the boundaries of your own creativity, how to manage the business side of things, how to sing with other people doing all kinds of incredible things behind you." Now, an older, wiser Howell has reemerged with Habits Can Be Hard to Break, a collection of six songs about life's travels, of getting from point A to point B, and experiencing all moments in between. "Tomorrow Comes" begins the disc with a somber look forward and a rundown of the essentials: "A good job, and a good life, and a good love, and a good cry." An almost angrily strummed "Missing You" raises the tempo, Howell's strong voice soaring over the heavy frets to ask disbelievingly, "Oh girl, did you just say the words?" "I'm Here" is equal parts lullaby and love song--an ode to a fallen friend--while "Kirksville" allows the listener a heart-wrenching view of a breakup. This fall will see Howell taking his guitar-and backing band-on the road. If you're in the middle part of the country-Midwest, South, the great state of Texas-expect a visit from this emotionally honest troubadour. In person, his commanding presence and audience connection are only that much more likely to captivate your every sense. Not that Howell doesn't want you to pick up the CD and make it a part of your life; he does. But success for him is deeper than mere record or ticket sales. "I just released an EP that my fans, friends and family are really happy with," he says. "And I'm about the luckiest guy in the world for being in a situation where I can do that. So I really see myself as already having 'made it.' "But I'd love other people to be along for the ride." Shotgun, anyone?