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Heat Sin Water Skin

Get thee to Nashville, BettySoo! Music Row needs you! In fact, Music Row needs anyone who can write a good song outside the machine. It is a gift, that, to be able to write a song so accessible that it cuts through the chaff yet not so formula that it turns people off. BettySoo has the gift. Of the ten originals, not one falls in the I-need-to-hear-it-more-before-I-make-up-my-mind category. They are all first listen winners.

They cover the soft rock map, too, Never Knew No Love kicking off the album in fine rocking fashion, chord progressions made to order and hooks enough to get under your skin and drag you away. After that, it's the domino effect, one song following the other and you just along for the ride. Just Another Lover and Whisper My Name are beautiful ballad followups, before the mid-tempo and more brash Who Knows (which, might I say, very much has the aura of early Carolyn Arends, one of my personal favorites). It goes on from there with Forever, Never the Pretty Girl and more, all good and every one in my head before I even knew it. Like I said, it's a gift.

I suppose this leans a bit toward Modern Country, but like I keep telling people, Country is the new Pop. I'm afraid I'm going to get awful tired of writing that, but what with Country taking the whacks it is for putting any performer it wants and putting him/her/them under their umbrella, regardless of genre, I am careful. BettySoo is not country, my friends, yet she is in the ballpark both voice-wise and song-wise with Sara Evans or Martina McBride. She is Pop, but smooth Pop with that rootsy feel.

Production-wise, this could not be much better. The band is topnotch, song to song, and the arrangements, simple though they sound, are in places beyond the pale. Certain of these songs will warrant a number of listens before you get it all. Credit Gurf Morlix. Speaking of whom., just who is this Gurf Morlix and why haven't I come across him before? I've heard the name (a lot of people knee-deep in music speak the name with a certain reverence), know he's been involved in numerous projects both as sideman, engineer and producer, but none of his projects have made it to my mailbox. I think. But wait, maybe... Well, no matter. His fingerprints and expertise are all over Heat Sin Water Skin and dipping fingers into this is a plenty good enough introduction.

I have to laugh. BettySoo and Gurf Morlix. I feel like I'm stepping into J.R.R. Tolkien. Actually, now that I think about it, if the music is this good, what do I care? Sing away, BettySoo and have at it, Gurf. And well done.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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