Our collective favorite genre, Americana, has been around long enough to borrow from many musical sources – R&B, bluegrass, indie, etc. But the nebulous field of “80s music” has not had much of a presence here. Austin-based trio Nobody’s Girl looks to change that, bringing pop sensibilities to their new EP, Waterline.
All three members of the band – BettySoo, Grace Pettis and Rebecca Loebe – have won the Kerrville New Folk Competition over the past decade, but the EP starts off as much Go-Go’s as Nancy Griffith. Poppy and polished describe the first song, “What’ll I Do,” which doubts the intentions of a frequent late-night caller – “You’re pretty and you know it/Not a safe bet.” The country-pop feel continues on “Waterline”, which describes a decaying relationship as a sort of brokedown palace and the indelible marks it leaves – “Three coats/still shows.”
The pop sheen starts to come off the tunes with track number three, “Queen City,” which tells the boom-and-bust tale of Meridian, once the largest city in Mississippi. Passionate vocals and gritty guitar (provided by the legendary David Grissom) sets this song apart. Broken-hearted ballad “Bluebonnets” continues the downbeat feel, telling a doubtful lover, “I took it apart and put it back together/And maybe now, your heart will work better.” And “Riding Out The Storm” reflects what could be that same lover’s view on the situation – “Someone say to me I’m worth savin’/That’s all I’m waiting for.”
After a capable cover of Blondie’s “Call Me,” the band circles back with a live version of the EP’s first track, “What’ll I Do.” A guitar and gorgeous harmonies simplify the busyness of the earlier take and make for a much better song. This is what works best for Nobody’s Girl – with apologies to Harlan Howard, “three voices and the truth” easily outshine trying to sound like the edgy cool girl on “Nashville.”
Waterline, produced by Michael Ramos, also includes contributions from Glenn Fukunaga on bass, J.J. Johnson on drums, Ramos on keyboards, and Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel. Give it a listen, here: https://www.nobodysgirlmusic.com/