Trying to categorize South Carolina singer/songwriter Danielle Howle is pleasantly futile business. Suffice to say that any artist who has released music on labels as diverse as Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars, and Daemon (Indigo Girls’ imprint) has got range and versatility going for her.
Both as a solo performer and as frontwoman with the Tantrums, Howle is a skillful songwriter with a crystalline, fluid alto that bridges and blurs the worlds of pop, folk, and country. The band’s third disc brims with Howle’s (and occasional co-writer/guitarist John Furr’s) typically atypical material. The obvious would-be radio hit here is the opening "Could Be Here," which is carried on a gorgeous gust of R.E.M.-style jangle and Howle’s canny wordplay. Her wily humor speaks for itself in the bouncy "Big Puffy Girl Handwriting," the mock mullet metal of "Camaro Power," and the country shuffle of "Karaoke" ("Karaoke brought us together/And now it’s tearing us apart . . . That machine has got your heart"). In the end, though, Howle wipes the grin right off your face with a dreamy torch ballad, "I’m in It," that would have done the Platters proud.
(Danielle Howle opens for Indigo Girls at FleetBoston Pavilion this Saturday, June 1, and performs at the Kendall Café this Sunday, June 2. Call 617-728-1600 for FleetBoston Pavilion show info, 617-661-0993 for the Kendall Café show.)