A name like Betty Black and an EP entitled, Bad Weather taken together speak of gutbucket, soul-wrenching blues. The tunes on this project aren’t exactly from the gut-bucket, nor are they soul-wrenching. But they are, in fact, some form of the blues.
Just like alt-rock sirens Alison Mosshart and Karen O, Betty Black has a strange amalgamation of pop and grunge in her voice, giving her the ability to sing sweetly, but not without forcing you to wonder if there’s pain bubbling beneath the surface. We hear this especially on some of the slower songs like the solemn, “Bitter Moon,” the darkly burlesque “Fatality of Love,” and the groveling, almost pathetic “Am I Not Your Girl?”
Her most unique song, and arguably the best-written song on the project, is “Paper Doll,” where Betty Black compares a woman to a paper cut-out, lacking life, and uniqueness. Here we get a true glimpse of Betty’s talent, as well as her ability to be accessible, and (dare I say) radio-friendly. This track is for every female, from sixteen to thirty-five, who feels like they’ve lost a piece of themselves in a relationship, turned into a template to appease a man, i.e. this song is a hit.
I’d be interested in hearing a full-length album from Betty Black because the EP is definitely an interesting listen–full of attitude and dirty cool. I just wonder if five or six more heartbreak songs would hold my attention. Maybe, maybe not. I even wonder how long these will. They’ll most likely become mood music — something I play only on occasions. All of which doesn’t take away from her work. It just means that perhaps she’s one of those artists that sound best when life has pushed you off a cliff, and your heart is impaled by the stake of love. An album for the rain. I mean, it is called Bad Weather, after all.
- Jason Reynolds