Mouths of Babes speak up

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“Our band motto is ‘All of the feelings, all the time,’” laughs Ingrid Elizabeth, one-half of the contemporary folk duo Mouths of Babes, adding, “We totally think we’ve achieved that goal with our new CD. It’s definitely an emotional ride.”

Titled “Brighter in the Dark,” the album is the first full-length release from Mouths of Babes, who will celebrate its completion with a concert this weekend at the Mystic Theatre - along with Katie Phillips and Mark Tarlton of The Bootleg Honeys. The new album is constructed entirely of songs developed three years ago, over a 52-week period, when Elizabeth (formerly of the Northern California band Coyote Grace) and Tylan Greenstein (formerly of the Brooklyn-and-Atlanta-based Girlyman) participated in a project titled “Real Women, Real Songs.” It’s the brainchild of Texas songwriter Cary Cooper, who invited twenty-two female songwriters — Greenstein and Elizabeth along with many others — to write and videotape a brand new song, every week, for a solid year. Each new song was posted online, on the Real Women, Real Songs YouTube station.

“For me, personally, it was really hard, but also really great,” says Greenstein. “Even though I didn’t actually end up writing a song every week, myself, I did write something every week. The idea behind the project is, you might write the worst song you’ve ever written, but at least you’ll do something. And trying but falling short is better than not trying at all.

“And one of the things I discovered was that, sometimes, when I least thought I could write a song at all, when I just wasn’t in the mood, I would sometimes end up writing the best song ever. It was a challenge, but it was great for so many reasons. It gave us all of this new material, and it taught us both that we can always create — even at times we doubt ourselves.”

Greenstein and Elizabeth first met through their previous bands, which toured together for a year in 2011, with Coyote Grace the opening act for Girlyman.

“We collaborated a lot musically, during that time,” Elizabeth says. “Then, in 2012, Coyote Grace and Girlyman, each for their own reasons, went off the road, and eventually split up.” The next year, after Cooper invited them each to participate in “Real Women, Real Songs,” they two spent a lot of time writing and creating together, though had not yet formally established themselves as an “act.”

“But at the end of that year, we had this whole arsenal of music, and we realized that really enjoyed writing together,” says Elizabeth. “By that time, we were already in a romantic relationship, but we had still never played music together onstage as a duo. But we had all these songs. So we started singing together around the house, and it was fun, and it sounded good, so we went, ‘Let’s try it! Why not? Let’s see what the world thinks of the music we’re making.’”

That is how Mouths of Babes, currently headquartered in Sebastopol, came to be.

“It’s been a couple of years now, and it’s been going pretty well so far,” Elizabeth says.

As a duo, they’ve certainly earned their share of acclaim. Huffington Post described Mouths of Babes’ onstage performance style as powerful, romantic, and giddy, adding, “The two are insanely infectious together onstage, like a musical and a personal love fest all at once.”

Still, till now, they’ve released only a few songs, on a debut EP titled “Faith and Fumes.” But with their songwriting energies kicked into overdrive with the 52-songs-in-52-weeks effort, it was only a matter of time till the best tunes from that period were presented on a CD of their own.

That’s “Brighter in the Dark,” which Elizabeth and Greenstein say contains some of their most personal writing to date.

“We’d done so much collaborative songwriting and collaborative arranging in our previous bands,” she says. “To have this chance to really explore who each of us are outside that dynamic, and to really go deep into our own personal songwriting, both of us ended up writing songs that were really different from what we’d ever done before.”

“In some cases, very different,” laughs Greenstein. “When you’re trying to write a song a week, long before you get to week 52, you find you’ve gone through everything you can think of to write about. For me, I had to really stretch and start trying new things, just to keep it interesting.”

Asked if the songs on the album are arranged chronologically, in order of how they were written, both musicians burst out laughing.

“No no! We’re too much like control freaks when it comes to the order and flow of an album,” says Elizabeth. “We both still very much believe in the art of the music album. Definitely, we wanted this to feel crafted and thoughtful, the way one song leads into another. I’m really happy with it, and we think people are going to like it, and hopefully will feel a lot when they listen to it.”

“All the feelings, all the time,” repeats Greenstein. “That’s us.”

(Contact David Templeton at david.templeton@arguscourier.com)

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