Americana/folk-pop supergroup Nobody’s Girl on new self-titled album: big, harmony-driven choruses and melodies

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Americana/folk-pop supergroup Nobody’s Girl featuring acclaimed singer-songwriters BettySoo, Rebecca Loebe, and Grace Pettis released their first self-titled full-length album on July 30, 2021, via Lucky Hound Music.

The album was produced (at Lucky Hound’s own state-of-the-art Studios at Fischer in the Texas Hill Country) by Michael Ramos, the Grammy Award-winning producer who helmed Waterline. In addition to Ramos on percussion and keyboards and the formidable rhythm section of bassist Glenn Fukunaga and drummers J.J. Johnson and Conrad ChoucrounNobody’s Girl features arguably the deepest roster of Texas guitar heroes this side of a classic Joe Ely or Arc Angels record: Charlie Sexton, David Grissom, and David Pulkingham

A press release states that all nine of their new co-written originals that made the cut for Nobody’s Girl certainly warrant enthusiasm. The press release goes on to state that it’s an album rife with intriguing juxtapositions not unlike the aforementioned balance of lyrical depth and effervescent fun. Sometimes the contrasts are weighed against each other within the confines of a single song, as in the somber reflection on family pride and generation-spanning guilt in “Birthright” and the soaring, cautious optimism of “Promised Land,” with its metaphorical mountaintop perspective on the entire country (and human race), providing a picture big enough to eclipse the bitter political and social divides tearing us apart. Other times, entire songs seem to pair off against each other as two sides of the same coin. Take, for example, “Rescued” and “Tiger,” two tracks that balance each other out like the proverbial devil and angel over one’s shoulders. 
 
The new album offers two covers: “Beauty Way,” a resplendently bittersweet anthem/ballad about the troubadour life penned by Eliza Gilkyson, another Austin-based songwriter and one of their biggest heroes, and Carole King‘s “So Far Away,” from 1971’s immortal Tapestry. 
 

You have a new self-titled album recently released on July 30. Share with us a little about the album.

Our LP is a pop record at its core: big, harmony-driven choruses and melodies that we hope will get stuck in your head. Songs you can turn up loud while you’re barrelling down the interstate. We were intentional about making it a true collaboration. Every original song (there are nine of them) is a three-way co-write. There’s lots of lead vocal trading within songs (within verses, even). We think that gives our sound something special. We’re all the lead singer in this band. We’re all the main songwriter. It’s a group effort in the literal sense. The LP has a style and sound that no one of us can reproduce individually.

What was the inspiration behind the music?

Inspiration can come from a thousand places. Sometimes it’s a headline in the news that’s been getting under our skin. Often, it’s something going on in our personal lives that we need to process and sing about. Sometimes we don’t even fully realize where a song originated until we’re hearing it back. We might start with any idea, scrap, melody, guitar progression. And then we let the song tell us what it wants to be. Like “Lark,” for instance. We started with the things we saw through the window of my mother’s sitting room in Ireland—nest, ivy, ledge, morning. One of us was dealing with loss when we were writing “Lark,” and that loss made its way into the song. I was thinking about my mother and about children leaving home and returning again. That’s in there too. It was springtime, so we were all thinking about seasons, which makes you think about life and time, death and rebirth, etc. It’s all in there. Some inspiration is conscious, and lots of it isn’t, I think.

Is there a particular song that speaks to you?

They all do, really. But “Kansas” felt especially true in the writing room. And it hits home when we sing it.

Who and what inspires your songs, and what is the band’s songwriting process?

We write mostly about and through the lens of our own lives and the cultural moments we live through. Pretty much every time we sit down to write a song, we mine from our personal perspectives and experiences. We start songwriting sessions with actual conversations, checking in with each other and talking about our lives. BettySoo makes tea. We sift through song scraps and trade stories and ideas until we land on something that resonates with everyone. Then, the songwriting itself is like a continuation of that conversation. We’re not done until we’re all satisfied that we’ve expressed something we can put our collective name on and be proud of.

You brought in some “Texas guitar heroes” to accompany the band. How did this collaboration form?

Yeah. We have David Grissom, David Pulkingham, Charlie Sexton, and Doug Pettibone on one album (Doug Pettibone plays pedal steel). We also have Glenn Fukunaga on the bass guitar (it counts—it’s a guitar, y’all). Those guys were all brought in by way of Michael Ramos, our producer, who also plays keys on the record. Michael is the Kevin Bacon of the Austin music scene. All recording sessions lead back to Ramos’ Rolodex, by a small number of degrees. People say yes to playing on any record Michael is producing, which was great for us. We are truly honored that those guys said yes to the project and added their genius to our record. But we can’t talk about Texas guitar heroes without mentioning our very own phenomenal BettySoo. That exquisite guitar part on “Lark” was written and played by BettySoo.

Two covers on the album are Eliza Gilkyson’s “Beauty Way” and the much-beloved “So Far Away” from Carole King. What drew you to those two songs?

I think “Beauty Way” was BettySoo’s idea initially. I jumped on that train quickly, though. “Beauty Way” has always been one of my favorite Eliza Gilkyson songs. Becca is a die-hard Eliza Gilkyson fan, too, so it turned out to be an easy decision. “Beauty Way” speaks so much truth about the artists’ path: the ups and downs and the sometimes harsh realities. It’s an easy song for any musician to connect to. And it’s masterfully written; it’s a perfect song.

“So Far Away” was actually our label Lucky Hound’s suggestion. They were hoping we’d choose at least one easily recognizable song to add to the album—something that had been a radio hit. And they’re big Carole King fans at the label, so they asked if we’d consider one of her songs. We said yes pretty fast. It wasn’t a hard sell. Carole King is a hero to all of us and to pretty much every self-respecting songwriter we know. Especially in the folk world and especially for womxn songwriters. She paved the way for all of us. “So Far Away” is one of those timeless gems that feels like it could have been written yesterday. It ended up being all too relevant when we released it. So many of us have felt “so far away” from the ones we loved during this pandemic. Physically and emotionally too. We’re on different sides of the aisle politically, culturally, geographically. It’s been a divisive year when no one could hug anyone or bridge that distance.

What message do you want to convey to listeners through your music?

I think that the collaborative nature of our band and this album speaks volumes in and of itself. Recently, a musician friend shared with us that she was inspired by the way we don’t compete with each other and refuse to put each other in any kind of pecking order. We’ve had audience members comment on the fact that we sometimes share instruments on stage and support each other during performances. They get a little emotional about it from time to time, because I just don’t think it’s the dominant narrative for women in our industry. It’s not what people expect to see. We’re challenging that narrative, that women are always ruthless competitors, vying for the most attention and opportunity, just by making art together that’s inclusive and cooperative. We like to bring up our friends to play songs during our shows. Just because we love them and we want them to be heard too. We don’t subscribe to the scrappy every-person-for-themself outlook. We’ve been able to do what we do because we are part of a tribe and because we share the work, and because we lift each other up. So we hope that comes across.

Do you have plans to hit the road with the release of this album?

Yep! That’s the plan! Many of our favorite venues are opening back up, and we’re so excited to come back to those stages and to see our fans again. Our fans and friends and those venues have enabled us to keep making music during this long pandemic. Those little $5, $10 tips on live streams and Patreon were a lifeline. Becca mentioned recently that she got choked up doing her taxes, just looking at all those small tips adding up to make a livable income. We’re so, so grateful to our fans. We’re excited to share this new album with our fans and to play these new songs together.

 

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