I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Miss Tess and the Talkbacks are some of the hardest-working musicians in the business.
Miss Tess isn’t her real name, obviously, but the band’s frontwoman is so committed to her stage name that even her emails say they’re from “Miss”—that is, first name “Miss,” surname “Tess.”
The name is a signal that she inhabits a world all her own. Tess writes her songs, but they sound like something pulled from a rack of dusty LPs. With just drums, double bass, and a pair of electric guitars, the band exists as an homage to older musical vintages without ever veering into kitsch.
Jazz and rockabilly intermingle like smoke in a speakeasy as Tess’s husky croon unfurls across the spare, softly-lit soundscape.
The last time we caught up with the Talkbacks, they had just finished recording an album and were about to stop in Boston on their summer tour. Now they’re back in town to celebrate the release of that selfsame album, Sweet Talk, with two shows at the Lizard Lounge on October 4 and 5.
The narrow basement club, with its dark corners and threadbare carpets, is exactly the sort of place you’d expect to find Miss Tess: it’s small and intimate, and a little bit hard to find.