Danielle Howle – Swamp Sessions

January 01, 1970





Howle should really be known on a wider scale instead of flying beneath a few
different radars. That might be the problem: the South Carolina guitarist/vocalist has
recorded for a couple indie rock labels (Simple Machines, Kill Rock Stars) and
Indigo Girl Amy Ray’s Daemon imprint, both as a soloist and with electric,
classic-rocking bands. Her songs fit perfectly in each setting, touching on subjects
of self-effacement and vulnerability, and presenting them in lyrics that avoid
excessive melodrama. It helps that Howle has the kind of voice that can cut
through rock, and a stage personality that turns half of a set into a stand-up
routine. Add to that a person who has no qualms about risking her hip cache by
singing with hometown friend Darius “Hootie” Rucker and you have a person that
can leave listeners on both sides of the fence wondering just what Howle is all


Swamp Session might
not answer that question, but it’s another solid, if brief solo set by Howle,
this time on her own label. “Freedom” kicks things off like an a capella field holler. The difference
here is she’s not crusading for the underdog or your mind here; the recipient
of the 1:50 tune sounds like a lover who’s about to get the heave-ho. Many of
the songs find Howle taking the bull by the horns as she deals with
relationship problems. “It’s Okay” sounds like a response to Tom Waits’ “I Hope
That I Don’t Fall In Love with You.” The way she attacks the acoustic guitar throughout
the disc has as much authority as that beautiful voice.


Just to
prove that the world isn’t a bleak place full of feuding lovers, she closes the
album with “April Called Today,” a song that uses the memory of a dead pet duck
as a metaphor for why it’s better to go through life feeling optimistic. The
track has some down-home humor to it, and it’s probably based on a true story,
but it’s not hokey in any way.


only thing that works against Swamp
is its brevity: eight songs in 22 minutes ain’t enough.


Standout Tracks:
“April Called Today,” “Familiar Destruction.” MIKE SHANLEY


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