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The film Bridesmaids famously concludes with Wilson Phillips performing their classic "Hold On" at Maya Rudolph's character's wedding. It's a call-back to Kristen Wiig and Rudolph's previous mention of their teenage love of the iconic ‘90s band. It works because Wilson Phillips are a guilty pleasure for many. They were never a cool band, but their killer harmonies were impossible to dislike or disrespect.
Nobody's Girl is a much cooler band, with stronger songwriting. But like Wilson Phillips, their appeal relies upon amazingly tight, rich, beautiful harmonies that improve everything they touch. Waterline, their all-too-short debut EP, isn't a guilty pleasure. But it does feature some huge pop hooks that would give Wilson Phillips a run for their money.
Nobody's Girl is made up of BettySoo, Grace Pettis, and Rebecca Loebe, all solo folk artists. They put together a joint tour in 2017 and to plug their shows, they recorded a cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" as a trio. The clip went viral and they were recording Waterline months later.
The timing of their endeavor is amazing when you consider how tight their harmonies are. One might think they had played together for years, not months. The album kicks off with "What'll I Do," which is shiny pop country, capturing the best aspects of both genres. The chorus is sweet and full, the power of a choir in three-part harmony. But there's also a rock edge; the electric guitars and drums on the verses are straight-up Replacements. Assembled together, it's a song meant to be blasted from a car stereo.
They return to the song at the end of the album, bringing it back for a live acoustic version. It's impressive to hear the song stripped down to just voice and guitar, giving the listener a true sense of their voices. It also shows they're more than ready to do a set for NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts.
The trio is also unafraid to delve into their folk roots. The title track "Waterline" features big drums and loud electric guitars, but the sad melody and lyrics come right out of their folk playbooks: "We stood on the rafters / A natural disaster / A wreckage of happily ever after." The three voices dart throughout the song, with soloists popping out, only to converge into each other, like birds joining a V formation, only to return to solo flight patterns.
One of the nicest surprises of the album, though, is their cover of Blondie's "Call Me." Where Debbie Harry's voice in the original is remote and emotionally distant, Nobody's Girl's version, with their lush harmonies, is inviting, with the vocals giving the familiar chorus a church-like shine.
At just seven songs, including a cover and two versions of the same song, Waterline feels too short. On the one hand, it's great to leave the listener wanting more. But on the other, it would be nice to hear more of their songwriting. The songs and production are intricate and well thought out, but as they demonstrate on their acoustic cover of "What'll I Do," they're also a group that can handle a more stripped-down environment.
Big pop hooks sung by beautiful voices is always a recipe for success. Wilson Phillips rode the concept out of one century and into another, and then into a Hollywood blockbuster. Nobody's Girl, with their voices that fit together like an aural jigsaw puzzle, and songwriting that's quite impressive, would, in a perfect world, achieve the same popularity as Wilson Phillips had back in the day. While they might not reach those heights commercially, they have reached them creatively. All they're missing now is a gross-out comedy film.
Notable Tracks: “Call Me” | “Waterline” | “What’ll I Do”