Change is good. Sometimes, you just need a little shake-up to get things to how they always ought to have been. With Heat Sin Water Skin, BettySoo adds some welcome edge and grit to the heartbreaker ballads and bell-pure vocals she’s come to be known for.
Teamed with seasoned producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves), BettySoo has made a record worth sitting up and paying attention to. Her vocals are striking, the players strong, the sound gripping, and the lyrics compelling.
Her first studio efforts (Let Me Love You, 2005; Little Tiny Secrets, 2007, Never the Pretty Girl EP, 2007) were well received by critics, earning praise locally and nationally – even securing her performance opportunities overseas. And she’s not slowing down any time soon. Since their release, she has earned multiple songwriting awards (including Kerrville New Folk, Wildflower Festival, and Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year) and has proven herself a strong emerging live performer.
Joining her on Heat Sin Water Skin are Todd Wilson on organ, Gene Elders on fiddle, and Dave Terry on drums. BettySoo and Gurf handled the guitar and vocal parts themselves. As for genre, she’s still nestled in the folk-rock world, but she is bringing something new to her listeners. “There’s a little gospel, some straight-ahead folk, a bit of twang, and maybe even a familiar oldie with a new twist. Be ready for a surprise.”
Then again, not much about BettySoo isn’t surprising. People are surprised just to see her take the stage. Plain-faced, petite (clocking in at exactly 5 feet), and freckly, people don’t have any idea what to expect – they certainly don’t expect such a large voice and moving songs. “I guess Asian-American singer-songwriters aren’t that common,” she comments, “at least, not in Texas.”
And, of course, there’s the whole issue of her name. How did a second-generation Korean end up with such a classic southern name? Is it a stage name? “No,” she answers, laughing, “I guess I’m just lucky that way. It’s right there on my birth certificate. Soo is my dad’s middle name, too. Yep, he’s a boy named Soo.”
Below: Betty Soo performs “Never the Pretty Girl” at Bayou Concerts on November 26, 2011