“That high school looked like prison,
Glazed eyes just trying to fit in;
Slow dancin’ and sloppy kissin’
You did your time.
You didn’t know what you were missin’
all second-hand ambition
‘til you went driftin’
down the double yellow line.”
From the opening rhymes—a fine and concise summation of late adolescence—Nobody’s Girl informs listeners that their Americana-Pop hybrid, each cylinder firing stronger than they may individually, is ready for a technicolor reveal.
Nobody’s Girl—BettySoo, Rebecca Loebe, and Grace Pettis, each an established artist in their own right—present a formidable recorded presence: lyrical acuity with sly insights and wry humor, a cohesive, consistent roots rock sound, and memorable vocal leads with vigorous, companionable harmonies.
Follow a straight line through a skein of wool, from Bonnie Raitt (“She’s a walking contradiction…”) and Carole King (“So Far Away”) through to Eliza Gilkyson (“The Beauty Way,”) Margo Timmins (“Waterline,”) The Chicks (“Tiger,”) Tracy Chapman (“What’ll I Do,”) and even the Go-Go’s (give a listen to “Kansas,” quoted above) and you’ll reach this Austin-based trio.
On their self-titled debut, a couple years in the making, Nobody’s Girl revisit a pair of songs—given a buff and polish—from an earlier EP, while fleshing out several fresh originals with the Gilkyson and King numbers. The album flows from peak to peak, never wavering with shortcoming. From the ‘No thanks, I’ve got this’-anthem “Rescued” to the regret-tinged but still hopeful “The Morning After,” the songwriting is stellar—instrumental grooves buoying lyrics along a tide of strength and inspiration.
Augmented with various Austin mainstays—Glenn Fukunaga (bass,) David Grissom (guitar,) Michael Ramos (producer, keyboards, and percussion,) and Charlie Sexton (guitars,) among others—the album’s mood is hopeful and uplifting, energetic and affirming. The trio harmonies on “Tiger” and “Waterline” are magical, and the leads—flipping between the three seamlessly—are stunning. Within a strong collaboration such as this, identifying individual highpoints is a fool’s errand, but “What’ll I Do,” “Lark,” “The Promised Land,” and “Rescued” are noteworthy and will be revisited regularly.
By writing ‘pop’ music from an Americana perspective, Nobody’s Girl confidently and unapologetically marches between light, delightful sounds and substantial, artistic credibility. Certainly destined for year-end ‘best of’ lists, mine included.