Miss Tess Performs on NPR's Mountain Stage
Today, West Virginia Public Broadcasting premiered Miss Tess' Mountain Stage performance of "True Flood," a track which features Lake Street Dive's Rachael Price, from her recently-released LP The Moon Is An Ashtray. Miss Tess, who performed to a sold-out Mountain Stage crowd with her band The Talkbacks, had this to say about the song: "This tune started with a bass line. I was at a songwriting retreat on a rustic island in the middle of a lake in New Hampshire, fooling around on my guitar. I started making a basic demo and wanted to experiment with an interesting vocal harmony, so I asked Rachael (Price) to come over to my cabin to sing it with me, knowing she would be the perfect duet partner. Rachael and I have been friends and musical soul sisters ever since we started sharing a Boston apartment in 2005 as a result of a Craigslist ad. We have a very similar singing background, and used to have a band together (The Sweet & Lowdown). When it came time to record she came down to Nashville and we cut the vocals live in the studio, both singing into the same vintage RCA mic."
Miss Tess will be celebrating the highly-acclaimed album's release with a tour that kicks off in Nashville on February 19th, with stops planned in Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and more. See below for a list of upcoming dates. The Moon Is An Ashtray is available for dowload on iTunes, Google Play, and at her website and is available for purchase on CD and vinyl.
"The moon is an ashtray. I fell in love with this metaphor," Miss Tess told American Songwriter of the album's unique title in its premiere of the record. "The album cover draws inspiration from an old picture I came across from what must have been a 1930s movie, where the women sitting on the moon looked, well, kind of pissed off. I loved that attitude captured as a juxtaposition against the classic romanticized 'woman on moon' image, and wanted to recreate that sentiment for the title track. Things are not always what they seem, especially when you're used to filtering them through an illusion of childlike romanticism. Objects such as the moon, and ideas of love, often fall into this category, but are too often followed by disappointment when you realize that this type of idealistic, cruel optimism is just an illusion. From far away the moon is a mystical glowing entity, yet in reality is cratered and dusty, sort of like... an ashtray." The sentiment was deftly captured in the video for the title track, directed by Tom Krueger (Bruce Springsteen, U2, David Bowie). "With a distinct old timey flair, the singer transports the listener to another time period with the throwback number," Billboard remarked of the whimsical video, which involves an evil villain luring in souls for his wonderland vignettes.
To help capture and shape her own unique sound, Miss Tess enlisted not only her trusty 1930s Weymann archtop, but also heavy input from co-producers Andrija Tokic (Margo Price, Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff) and Thomas Bryan Eaton, her full-time bandmate and musical partner. Combining Eaton's' arranging ideas and skilled instrumental work with Tokic's studio full of vintage mics, tube amps, keyboards, and tape machines, the resulting record has a rich, buttery warmth well-suited to Miss Tess' voice and authentic, retro-contemporary songwriting style.
When most people think of defiant music, they think of punk rock or outlaw country. But defying genres while transcending eras and resisting clichés is hard to pin down when it comes to artistry unless you're talking about Miss Tess, who does all of that and more on The Moon Is An Ashtray. Swinging for the fences and from the branches of jazz, country, blues and old school rock and roll, she has employed all of her influences and talents on a tour-de-force, while cleverly taking standard perspectives and ideas - like the definition of a love song - to task. From soulful swagger to jazz, blues, a little old school country, and even a touch of psychedelia, Miss Tess shows both the pluck and poise to fold a multitude of styles into her own.
Watch the music video for "The Moon is an Ashtray" below.
2/19 Nashville, TN @ The 5 Spot
2/20 St. Louis, MO @ Focal Point
2/21 Chicago, IL @ Honky Tonk BBQ
2/22 Indianapolis, IN @ Duke's
3/04 Charlotte, NC @ The Thirsty Beaver
3/05 Fayetteville, NC @ Cameo Art House
3/06 Aberdeen, NC @ Rooster's Wife
3/07 Saluda, NC @ Purple Onion
3/11 Knoxville, TN @ TN Shines
3/12 Bristol, TN @ Farm & Fun Time
3/13 Charlottesville, VA @ The Front Porch
3/14 Washington, DC @ The Soundry
3/15 Philladelphia, PA @ Philadelphia Folksong Society
3/17 New York, NY @ Voices on the Hudson at City Vineyard
3/18 Northampton, MA @ Parlor Room
3/19 Cambridge, MA @ The Lizard Lounge
3/20 Portland, ME @ One Longfellow Square
3/21 Peacedale, RI @ Roots Hoot House Concert
3/22 Cazenovia, NY @ Nelson Odeon
3/25 Rochester, NY @ Abilene
3/26 Buffalo, NY @ Sportsmen's Tavern
3/27 Peninsula, OH @ GAR Hall
3/28 Columbus, OH @ Natalie's
Photo Credit: Jimmy Downard