Veteran singer-songwriter Danielle Howle released a new single, “Something Better Now,” to express her trust that goodness is always present, that she can chase the feeling of wanting to do more in life. “It’s about getting out of your own way and feeling a part of something bigger — that we can all make a difference in each other’s lives and do something better now,” she said.
“Usually I’m a melody driven operator when it comes to songs,” she said, “but this one was some guitar licks that came together. After that, it was the melody presenting itself, and they kept winding around each other. I feel like it’s about getting out of your own way: being kinder to one’s own self can make you kinder to other people.”
Mark Bryan of Hootie & the Blowfish recorded the new single in his studio, also contributing keys and guitar. “I was just really lucky to get to work with him again — on any project I’ve ever had, he’s such a good open bright shining light in the world,” she said.
All the horns in the track were recorded live — everything from trumpet and french horn to trombone and saxophone. Howle’s deep voice drives the intricate instrumentation that is grounded by her acoustic guitar, and bandmates Gary Green on drums and Derek Brakefield on bass.
“I’m a self taught musician. I just sit there and sing parts to people all day, and they riff really hard and make it sound good.”
The folk rock ballad is accompanied by a simplistic music video centered around nature, inspired by a slice of Francis Marion National Forest that Howle knows well after holding many songwriter retreats there with help from Awendaw Green.
“I’ve been filming those trees for years and years and years. I’ve gotten to know those trees well,” she said. She made a list of all the trees she wanted to film and enlisted videographer Wes Pellerin, formerly of Columbia rock band Hot Lava Monster, to walk almost five miles with her to capture footage.
For Howle, the video for “Something Better Now” is her way of connecting her community with Charleston’s native beauty. “I want people to understand that arts and natural resources are creative forces that continue to bring light and human safety and harmony — they give us what we need, like walking in the forest gives us what we need.”
The new single leads off her 16th album, which will be completed via Kickstarter. “I feel stronger as a person knowing there’s some people out there who really care about what I do,” she said of the burgeoning project.
In the wake of the shutdown, the social support element of her upcoming album reflects the lesson the pandemic taught her: She needs people more than she thinks. “Generosity comes in many forms. There’s no ending to the resources. We all think resources end, but love is a resource and it doesn’t end. Everything that we need will come to us.”
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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.