Soltero is the brainchild of Tim Howard, a Boston-based singer/songwriter with a knack for penning forlorn but clever laments about insecure people battling to keep afloat in a sea of regret and broken relationships. Howard's innovative imagery and original metaphors giddily flip traditional love-gone-wrong song conventions on their ear and inject some much-appreciated levity into the mix. Howard's wordplay is as likely to invoke a chortle as a tear without sacrificing the music's gravitas; it's better to have loved and lost, especially for the songwriting fodder. Musically, Soltero's songs are lo-fi indie folk, like a slightly less-countrified Silver Jews, or Pedro the Lion with a better sense of humor. Soltero's 2001 debut, Science Will Figure You Out, featured Howard fronting the Mobius Band in the studio. Recorded in Amherst, MA, it was a sparse, flawed affair that nevertheless showed obvious promise. After touring the Northeast (both solo and as a band) in support of the Mountain Goats, Of Montreal, and Town & Country, among others, Howard enlisted the help of Casey Keenan (drums), Ben Macri (bass), and Alexander McGregor (guitar, keys) to tour with and record Soltero's follow-up, Defrocked and Kicking the Habit. The sophomore effort, released in the spring of 2003 on Rhode Island's Handsome Records, mines the same subject matter as its predecessor but has a fuller, more varied sound, and an intriguing element of experimentation has seeped into Howard's songwriting, which would seem to bode well for any future Soltero efforts. ~ John Schacht

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