Sometimes, you just need a little shake-up to get things how they always ought to have been. With Heat Sin Water Skin, BettySoo adds 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 are strong, the sound is compelling, and her writing captivating.
Her first two studio albums (Let Me Love You, 2005; Little Tiny Secrets, 2007) and EP (Never the Pretty Girl, 2007 – sold for charity) were well received by critics, earning praise locally and nationally – even securing her some 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, & Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year). She has proven herself a strong performer as well, invited back to perform at all three aforementioned festivals the following year, in addition to being billed at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival and Old Settler's Music Festival.
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, 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 (she’s five foot exactly), 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 all that common,” she comments, “at least, not in Texas.” In fact, she regularly gets greeted after her shows with praise comparing her music and vocals to everyone from Ruthie Foster to Sheryl Crow to Joan Baez.
Then, 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.”