Danielle Howle is a singer and songwriter from South Carolina who has
coined a powerful (and frequently disorienting) style of singing and who relies
on a uncanny talent for conversational lyrics about mundane topics observed with
Lay Quiet Awhile was formed in the 1980s in South Carolina and in 1989 added
vocalist Danielle Howle to the line-up. She makes the difference on
Delicate Wire (Daemon, 1993), a collection of carefully assembled songs
that her voice turns into dreamy impressionistic portraits.
After the band broke up in 1994, Howle started playing
the clubs with the sole accompaniment of her acoustic guitar.
The EP Wrestling (Daemon, 1994), with Frog Song, and the
Live At McKissick Museum (Daemon, 1995) photograph her naked persona.
About To Burst (Simple Machines, 1996), recorded with a canonic
power-trio, is the revelation of a full-fledged musician, not only a
talented story writer and teller.
Howle swings between pop (I Held The Satchel), rap (Evidence) and
blues (Spider Writer), sometimes emphatic (Threatened) and
sometimes delicate (Lonely Is A Word). Her most disturbing stories are
the metaphysical parables of The Parlor and Parakeet Protest Song,
whose meaning resonates long after the refrain is over.
Morally, Howle is the continuation of a line of introspective folksingers
that runs through Joni Mitchell and Lisa Germano,
while her bitter wit connects with the ghost of
Do A Two Sable (Daemon, 1997), credited to the Tantrums like the single
High School Dance (Sub Pop, 1997),
is even more electric and even more
melodic. Howle is maturing as a composer while settling down as a writer into
the domestic mood of so much country music.
The erotic You Came A Knockin', the sarcastic
Cartoon In The Courtroom, and the common-folks vignettes of
Dusty and Big Front Porch are as unassuming as hummable.
The electric Howle is not all that different from the acoustic Howle.
Howle returned to the (mostly) acoustic format for
Catalog (Kill Rock Stars, 1999) and its intimate fables, notably
From The Top Of Trees.
Skorborealis (Daemon, 2002) displays a maturing voice and
quasi-bubblegum melodies (Could Be Here, Cut a Rug,
Sneaky A.M.) that redefine her persona, while leaving in the background
her country/folk roots (Karaoke, Let the Angels Commit).
She even takes a stab at lounge pop-soul (Dark Like the Coat) but
probably finds the best balance with the K.D. Lang-esque Camaro.
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