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Music

Americana's Nobody's Girl Champion the Everyperson on "Kansas" (premiere + interview)

Photo: Valerie Fremin / Courtesy of Conqueroo

Americana/folk-pop supergroup Nobody's Girl, featuring former Voice contestant Rebecca Loebe and fellow singer-songwriters Grace Pettis and Betty Soo, share their uplifting new single, "Kansas".

Nobody's Girl, the Americana/folk-pop supergroup featuring acclaimed singer-songwriters Betty Soo, Rebecca Loebe, and Grace Pettis, will release their debut album on 10 July via Lucky Hound Music. The album follows the trio's 2018 debut EP, Waterline, and expands on the promise listeners embraced with that first release. With all three members contributing to the writing process, Nobody's Girl serves as a true fusion of talents, with material such as the psych-pop tinged "Rescued", Tom Petty-inflected "Beauty Way", and the deeply tender "Birthright".

The opening cut, "Kansas", speaks directly to the themes and sounds that unify the record. The song is built on a bluesy swagger that gives way to verses about the small town dreamer or a frustrated loner who believes they are all alone. It's sturdy and anthemic, with radio-ready choruses that seamlessly blend the disparate strands of American music the group draws upon for its singular sound. Undeniably inspired by Dorothy's journey in The Wizard of Oz, it celebrates the journey of the downtrodden into the comfort of their own skin and a hopeful future. It's ultimately a burst of Technicolor in what can sometimes seem a bleak and dark existence.

Betty Soo recalled the tune's origins for PopMatters. "You can look at the world and wonder, 'Why doesn't everyone see it just like me?' But then you think, 'How far did you have to come from what you were raised with?'" she notes. "Some people have to move a great distance to get to where they are. We have so much sympathy for people having to let go of the ideas they were raised with or being told 'no' repeatedly. Finding who you are and where you want to be is exciting, but it's also full of a lot of loss."

The singer-songwriter further discussed Nobody's Girl's ongoing journey in a conversation from her home in Austin, Texas.

When did you know it was time to go in and make this full-length album?

After our EP came out, the three of us kept writing. We had things we really wanted to write with each other. But when it came out, we had never even played a show together. We didn't know if our chemistry was going to work on tour. It turned out that it did and that we really loved writing together. We realized that it was going to be a longer-term thing for us. It seemed like the natural progression that we'd do another record. The label made us an offer, and it just felt right.

The three of you work together on all the songs?

We all get in there and chisel away together.

Is that process new for you?

I've done a lot of co-writing, but I haven't done a lot of co-writing with three people. I had no idea what a completely different beast that is. And I've never done it in a situation where we were going to be performing the songs regularly together, and it needed to represent all of us. There was a need for one person to feel fantastic about all the decisions, but with this group having three voices, three opinionated writers are different. We have to be on stage together when a song is presented, and that ups the stakes.

When you're writing with two people it's not that hard to find agreement. There are times when we're writing in this band that two of us feel a line is great, but a third person will say, "That's just not doing it for me." That can be frustrating, but it can be just as hard to be that third person. But I think we've learned so much from doing it together.

Does this material represent everything that you've written since the EP or did you whittle it down from a larger body of work?

We have some songs that we've started or gotten pretty close to finished, but we knew they wouldn't make the record. To be honest, it's pretty hard for us to schedule our writing time.

With the live shows, is it strictly Nobody's Girl material or do you bring in solo songs as well?

We do bring in pieces that we have written on our own, but we all perform them. We all have at least one song that we've recorded for a solo record and play together. We'll all take a verse on it. We try to make those collaborative on stage.

Are there fans who are unaware that the three of you have solo careers?

That's starting now, like in the last six months. The first year or more that we were touring, it was our solo fans who were coming out and being supportive. I think there were some who weren't even sure if they would like this. They were just supporting whichever one of us that they loved. Their reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, but we're getting more people who are coming to see the group, and they have no idea that we're also solo artists. It's kind of cool that it takes on its own life.

You cover Carole King's "So Far Away" on this new album. What inspired that?

Lucky Hound, our record label, owns this great recording facility out in Fischer, Texas. They have the piano that was used on Tapestry and also on Joni Mitchell's Blue.It just happens to sit right there in the live room. Being near that piano is inspiring. It's amazing to sit at it and think, "This is the vehicle for launching a big chunk of the soundtrack to many peoples' lives." We all grew up around those records. Being around that piano, it starts to call to you. We knew that we had to use it in some way on the record.

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