In the comic book world, a familiar storyline move is to put heroes who have established their own books and storylines together at some point to form a super team (think the Avengers or Justice League of America). When it comes to Texas-based contemporary folk and country bands, three of its brightest new lights have just come together to form Nobody’s Girl. They’ll celebrate the release day of their debut EP, Waterline, with a show locally at the Mucky Duck.
Even before this trio came together, singers/multi-instrumentalists BettySoo, Rebecca Loebe, and Grace Pettis had something in common. They all won the prestigious New Folk Competition as part of the Kerrville Folk Festival (in 2008, 2009, and 2011 respectively).
So the three were familiar with each other’s music and criss-crossed at various gigs and events. Last summer, Loebe proposed a joint tour as “The Sirens of South Austin,” and they filmed an iPhone video performing a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” to interest promoters.
“We were friends with each other, but we didn’t intend to form a band. And then Rebecca thought it would be great to tour together,” says member BettySoo, a 1997 graduate of suburban north Harris County’s Westfield High School whose parents live in Houston. “Then all of a sudden, we were a band!”
That happened when the three gathered at the retreat Studios at Fischer an hour north of Austin just to see if they could gel and ended up writing three songs in 36 hours. The owners heard the material and immediately signed them to their own new Lucky Hound Music label.
The six songs on the Michael Ramos-produced Waterline certainly run a gamut of sounds. The insanely catchy first single “What’ll I Do” and folk pop of “Riding the Storm Out” could fit nicely on any contemporary country-rock FM playlist. “Queen City” is a funky workout about a tent revival, “Bluebonnets” a romantic torch song, and the energetic title track uses flood waters as a metaphor for a crumbled relationship. Each member sings leads on two songs on the record, and the lush harmonies are lush soar throughout. They've also filmed a video for an acoustic version of "What'll I Do."
The most surprising track is a cover of Blondie’s 1980 hit “Call Me,” more strident and sexed up. And while Nobody’s Girl will likely tire of the comparisons, think the Dixie Chicks or a more countrified version of the Bangles or Wilson Phillips.
“We all grew up listening to a lot of musical genres, but it’s hard to pull that off as a solo act. So when we recorded the EP, Michael Ramos helped move us into that direction, with a lot of harmony and keeping it musically interesting,” BettySoo says, before expressing the virtues of her current home town.
“What’s special I think about Austin is the community of musicians is more supportive than competitive. We don’t have an industry infrastructure like Nashville or L.A., so different things come out here. People don’t have much patience for having a cutthroat edge here. It’s about developing a rapport and friendship with your
audience and other musicians.”
While all three members are thrilled with Waterline, each will also continue on their own career paths concurrently. BettySoo with her own work and as part of the retro pop group Charlie Faye & the Fayettes; Pettis has just put out a duo EP with her guitar playing partner; and Loebe will have her own record coming out early next year.
“I think we all see this as a great thing and that has been charmed in some way. We’re all in that wait-and-see kind of thing, but giving it everything we can. This is not by any means an ugly stepchild side project,” she says.
“We’re not trying to outshine each other onstage and are just supportive of each other. And we are just constantly in awe of how this trio is more than the sum of its parts. It’s how we connect with our audiences and each other. Everything about it seems to have a certain something. There’s a fourth element here. And I don’t know what that is!”
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In the end, BettySoo says that she and her two band mates have a depth in their relationship that belies how little time they’ve actually spent together. And that spills over to their stage banter.
“I know it sounds cheeseball and corny, but each of us really wants the audience to know how great the other two are. We really are big fans of each other. And for whatever reason, it just works!”
Nobody’s Girl performs 7 p.m. on September 28 at the Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. For information, call 713-529-5999 or visit McGonigels.com. $25
For more information on Nobody’s Girl, visit NobodysGirlMusic.com