The incandescent creativity of Americana duo Mouths of Babes is a testament to the abilities of musicians who truly understand the bare elements of their influences and inspirations. Composed of Ingrid Elizabeth and Tylan Greenstein, the band rockets through a collision of folk, blues and classic rock in an attempt to explore the common musical threads inherent to all these genres. It’s a rowdy and beautiful grace that adorns their work, the kind of introspective noise that cuts to the beating heart of any given narrative and revels in the intimate details of the experience.
Before founding Mouths of Babes, Elizabeth was a fixture in Coyote Grace, while Greenstein was performing with Girlyman. On a split tour in 2011 and 2012, the seeds of Mouths of Babes were planted, but when both bands left the road the following year, they were drawn apart. However, love and music aren’t things to be taken lightly, and later that year, Greenstein moved to California and knocked on Elizabeth’s door. The two have been inseparable ever since. They first began writing and recording together under the Real Women Real Songs project in 2014, which challenged artists to write and record a song every week for a full year. With a treasure trove of material at their disposal, they began the process of assembling their debut EP, “Faith & Fumes,” which was released in late 2014.
The duo is now back with new material, as 2017 will find them releasing their first full-length, called “Brighter in the Dark,” due out Jan. 27. In advance of its release, the band is sharing a wonderfully infectious and roiling bit of country, rock and soul called “Take Me Dancing,” which also features the beatific work of Chicago-based musical collective Birds of Chicago. Buoyed by Elizabeth’s and Greenstein’s contrasting voices-and some ebullient rhythmic complexity-the track works as an intricate amalgam of their collective influences.
There’s a bitterness to the words that’s slightly offset by the gloriously inclusive nature of the music. It’s both a warning for those whose life is ruled by a complete romanticism and a yearning for days gone by when things were far less complicated and could be fixed by a simple dance with the one that you love. The melodic waltz and emotional release that “Take Me Dancing” affords the band possesses an inherent elegance that cuts through all the complicated details of everyday life.
Elizabeth explained the origins of the song:
Everyone knows that “ball and chain” feeling in a relationship. The glitter has faded, and a drab, domestic co-existence seems to be the new norm. These days, people spend way more time nose to nose with glowing rectangles than they do with their sweetie! Being a hopeless romantic myself, I had to give voice to that resigned bitterness and turn it into a saucy challenge to spice things up. Originally, I wrote the song in a country style, but I wanted it to have a timeless appeal akin to those old Atlantic soul records: a solid groove layered with a Latin-tinged rhythm section, orchestral strings and doo-wop backup singers. That transformation finally took shape when we went in to record and ended up working with various musicians, both in the studio and long distance. It definitely wins the award for “most collaborative song” on the album, including tracks recorded remotely in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Updated @ 11:40 a.m. on 12/28/16 to correct a factual error: The band is called Mouths of Babes, not Mouth of Babes, as originally reported.