Miss Tess & The Talkbacks are a grooving rock ‘n’ roll band playing original music rooted in an eclectic array of vintage blues, country, and jazz sounds, based in Nashville, TN. Front and center in this tight quartet is soulful songwriter and skilled guitarist, Miss Tess. She possesses a voice that is, "alternately seductive and sexy, and is a pure joy to listen to” (Pop Matters).
With a decade’s worth of US & European tours and multiple full length releases under her belt, Miss Tess has proven to be one of the more interesting acts on the blossoming Americana scene. Her eclectic taste steeped in her deep well of musical knowledge results in her own timeless sound that continues to fascinate music lovers. On her new release Baby, We All Know, Tess continues to explore her own personal crossroads of American roots music with eleven diverse and finely crafted original songs. Heightened by Tess’ prowess on her Weymann archtop guitar, she is accompanied by a top-notch band, featuring guitar & pedal steel ace and co-conspirator Thomas Bryan Eaton. The songs were further enlivened with piano, organ, and fiddle in the studio.
Tess says “I consider this my best yet collection of original music. In writing these tunes I stepped out of myself and into many different characters, based on real life and my imagination, and pulled sounds and stories from my musical fantasy land.” These songs were penned at Tess’s yearly writing retreat in New Hampshire, and at her home in Nashville. Yet time and place don’t bear much relevance here; the subjects she speaks through live in the streets of New Orleans, in the backwoods hollers of Tennessee, on a train heading to Mexico, and under the sheets.
Miss Tess has won fans from New York City to New Orleans and Alabama to Alaska. Over the years she has shared the stage with the likes of Lake Street Dive, NRBQ, The Holmes Brothers, Eilen Jewell, and Todd Snider. Her band has graced stages at Blissfest, Cayamo, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Floydfest, Ossippee Valley Music Festival, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Burlington Jazz Festival, Green River Festival, Red Wing Roots, Shakori Hills, and more. Miss Tess’s music has been heard from coast to coast on taste maker programs such as XM/Sirius’s The Loft, NPR’s Folk Alley, Santa Cruz’s KPIG and Boston’s WUMB and Baby, We All Know lived in the top 20 on the Americana Charts for six weeks.
Miss Tess grew up in Maryland, where she took piano lessons at an early age. She went to college in Baltimore, intending to be a graphic artist. While there, she dabbled in guitar, but it wasn't until the end of her studies that she began taking it seriously. Once she became more interested in becoming a musician, she started studying jazz and writing songs, and put together her first band. Having grown up listening to her parents' bands playing big band swing, folk, country and dixieland music, rootsy styles came naturally to her.
After a move to Boston, Miss Tess took a few classes at Berklee College of Music and formed a new band with a few fellow jazz students. Miss Tess quickly established herself as a songwriter and performer in the storied Boston music scene, playing regularly at local clubs. Over four years she won a Boston Music Award, and was nominated several other times in the Folk and Jazz categories of the BMAs, as well as the New England Music Awards. Miss Tess later moved to Brooklyn for a 5 year stint in the big city, followed by a move to Nashville, where she is currently based. She has since developed her sound to include more classic country, rockabilly and vintage rock 'n' roll, all combining into her ever-developing sense of self and eclectic taste in American roots music.
"Nashville meets Brooklyn...country chic." –Village Voice
"I don’t know of anyone else right now touring in the Americana scene that has such an eclectic, jazzy, old school and interesting vibe. There’s an authenticity present in Miss Tess’ music. It is not contrived, not too far a stretch for the skeptical imagination. She is real. And she is rare." –No Depression
Miss Tess has been releasing albums and leading a band for over a decade, spanning her career over many different cities including Baltimore, Boston, NYC, and her new home base of Nashville, TN. Straddling her move from New York to Nashville, the new album was recorded in both cities. The recording cast includes her steady band mate and co-producer, Thomas Bryan Eaton, producer Dan Knobler (Rodney Crowell, Tift Merritt), Robin Macmillan, Jake Silver (Lee Fields), Roy Williams, Stefan Zenuik, Eric Frey (The Revelers), Dominic Billet (Andrew Combs), Kai Welch, John Pahmer, Aaron Shaffer-Haiss, Oliver Craven (The Stray Birds), Maya De Vitry (The Stray Birds) and Caitlin Canty.
A follow up to 2012’s Sweet Talk and 2013’s The Love I Have for You, both released on Signature Sounds Recordings, 2016’s Baby, We All Know was released independently and received accolades in the press as well as reaching the Top 20 in AMA Radio Charts and being included in the top 100 albums of the year for 2016.
“Miss Tess renders original songs with a self-possession and naturalness that heralds one of the most enjoyable albums this year.” –Downbeat
“An amalgamation of country-blues music with influences from artists both old and new, Baby, We All Know is decidedly old school. Miss Tess & The Talkbacks have truly crafted a winner.” –Paste
As she expands and grows more into her own sound, Tess is still hard to categorize. She says “Many times after the show somebody will come up to compliment the band and ask me what kind of music we just played. After mumbling through a few different genres I usually just tell them it’s my music and hope they enjoyed the show”. Enjoyable is just what her music is, propelled by the classic quality of Tess’s vocals, compelling and totally believable. The production throughout is the right balance of punch and rhythm, without getting in the way of the vocals or songwriting, giving this collection of songs a plentiful dose of old-school swagger. Time after time, Miss Tess is able to utilize sounds and styles from a past era combined with modern sensibilities to present an authentic and engaging presence.