Darling, oh Darling

by Miss Tess

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about

"The thrift-shop clothes, the vintage Weymann guitar, the demure stage name – all those clues signify, right from the start, that Miss Tess plans to take us on a retro roadtrip. The vocal stylings of the past perfectly suit her bell-like voice — more Madeleine Peyroux or Zooey Deschanel than Norah Jones – with its offbeat blend of sassiness and winsome charm.

Gimmicks like that can easily fall flat, and I must admit I felt a little trepidation as I first put Miss Tess’s newest CD, Darling, Oh Darling, on my player. It didn’t take long, though, for me to relax and breathe a sigh of relief. Miss Tess has the chops to pull it off.

To classify this Boston-based singer-songwriter as merely a jazz singer would miss the point – she’s a musical chameleon, recalling at various moments Tom Waits’ barfly humor, the cabaret-rock of Beirut, or even the wink-wink wit of early Bette Midler. On previous albums (this is her fifth), Miss Tess has included a fair number of jazz standards, but Darling, Oh Darling takes a bigger leap — Miss Tess has written every track, revolving like a vintage jukebox through a whole catalog of musical styles. What’s impressive is how thoroughly she has absorbed the old-school genres – these aren’t just catchy songs with retro arrangements, you’d swear they were 30- or 40-year-old standards. She’s equally adept at the fast-talking scat of “That Ooh Ooh Ooh” and the Dixieland strut of “Saving All My Love”; she can shift seamlessly from the gentle oompah waltz of “Time Can Take the Pain Away” to the rockabilly kiss-off of “I Don’t Wanna See You Anymore.” There’s a risk involved, of course; some of the genres she explores don’t suit her voice or my predilections. Nevertheless, the lady gets top marks for trying.

Her stylized songs – both tongue-in-cheek toe-tappers and campy strolls – are a hoot, but the numbers that really won me over were more mainstream tracks, songs that prove she’s got substance as well as style. There’s the title track, “Darling Oh Darling,” a yearning two-step with poetic lyrics like “There’s a beating heart under my skin / It took all I had just to let you in / Tonight,” sung against a plangent pedal steel. The lilting “Love” is a tuneful (and refreshingly upbeat) meditation on the fleeting nature of romance. “Awake,” with its brooding dissonances and wistful banjo shuffle, crystallizes an almost existential moment between waking and sleeping. She’s got a wonderful ear for melody, whether it’s a catchy upbeat number or a haunting slow song; her tunes take surprising turns, but it doesn’t take long before you find yourself humming along.

Credit must also be given to Miss Tess’s backing band – a lean but multitalented ensemble that includes Paul Dilley on upright bass, Gillian DeLear on drums, and the marvelous Alec Spiegelman on just about any woodwind instrument you could ask for. Spiegelman’s clarinet in particular lends extraordinary texture to several tracks – when was the last time a clarinet trill made you laugh out loud?

I’ve been listening to this CD for days now, wearing off its initial strangeness, settling into its softly burnished groove. What started out sounding to me like a novelty album is just endearing now, full of oddball personality. Unfortunately, in the decentralized music business of today, an offbeat charmer like this record could easily get lost, dropped into the bottomless pit between jazz and alternative music. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen – this record is too much fun to go unheard." –Holly Hughes, Blog Critics

credits

released October 1, 2009

Miss Tess: vocals & rhythm guitar
Alec Spiegelman: clarinet, sax, horn arrangements
Paul Dilley: upright bass
Gillian DeLear: drums, recording engineer
Lyle Brewer: guitar on tracks 3, 6, 9, 10, 12
Jerry Miller: pedal steel on tracks 3, 9
James Rohr: piano on 1, 2, 5, 7
Jeff Galindo: trombone on 1, 5, 8
Scott Aruda: trumpet on 1, 5, 8
Matt Boucher: tuba on 5, 8
Charlie Rose: banjo on 11
Rachael Price: vocals on 3
Avi & Celia: vocals on 7

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Track Name: Riding Home
Riding, riding, riding the long night through
Riding, riding, riding home to you
There’s nothing in the world
I’d rather do

Shining, shining, is the moon up above
Shining, shining, for the one that I love
There’s a pretty little baby
I’ve been dreaming of

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the hours to pass
Waiting, waiting, don’t think I’ll last
Just to watch the hours
Sure ain’t moving fast

Praying, praying, someone’s waiting for me
Praying, praying, please don’t let me be
I’m coming home soon
So you’ll be sweet to me
Track Name: That oo oo oo
He’s a one stop shop from his feet to his top
And they all seem to agree
He could make you crazy go
But that don’t bother me
I remember a time when falling in love
Was the best part of the day
Now he’s walking in the door
Keep things going that way
Cuz he’s got that oo oo oo
What a lovely how do you do
He’s got that oo oo oo
In the bag
He’s got that oo oo oo
He’s a strong as the hoochinoo
He got a white starch collar
A dime on the dollar
He can make you shout and make you hollar

He’s the king of cool turn you into a fool
‘fore you can stop and look around
he’ll catch your eye he’s that kind of a guy
pick you right up off the ground
there’s no stopping the man
he’ll take you by the hand
take you out there for a ride
he make sure before he goes
you’ll never want to leave his side
cuz he’s got that oo oo oo
what a lovely how do you do
he’s got that oo oo oo in the bag
he’s got that oo oo oo
and he’s strong as a hoochinoo
he’s a real smart cat no matter where he’s at
he can make you hollar if you like it like that

well he’s got that oo oo oo
what a lovely how do you do
he’s got that oo oo oo in the bag
he’s got that oo oo oo
and he’s strong as a hoochinoo
he’ll make you feel so good
better than you should
so you’d better watch out
is that understood
cuz a man like him will try to pull you in
I thought that you’d might like to know
He’ll make you feel so nich and sweet
And then he’ll let you go
Track Name: Darling, oh Darling
What can you do when you’re feeling low
There’s a place inside where I have to go again
See my only friend
There’s a beating heart underneath my skin
It took all I had just to let you in tonight
And it just ain’t right

You don’t believe my love is true
You think I’m gonna leave and make a fool of you
I wish you’d take my point of view
And you’d see how much I’ve cared for you
I know it’s hard
But I’ve been trying
Now I’ve gotta keep from crying
Darling, oh darling

Once we met as lovers would
Underneath the skies I understood it all
And I had to fall
Your words came drifting through my head
And they lingered until you said goodbye
Can you tell me why

You don’t believe my love is true
You think I’m gonna leave and make a fool of you
I wish you’d take my point of view
And you’d see how much I’ve cared for you
I know it’s hard
But I’ve been trying
Now I’ve gotta keep from crying
Darling, oh darling

One more night I wait for you
Just sitting in this lonely room of mine
Just to pass the time
If love is blind then fate can see
The way it ends for you and me alone
Do you wanna know?

You don’t believe my love is true
You think I’m gonna leave and make a fool of you
I wish you’d take my point of view
And you’d see how much I’ve cared for you
I know it’s hard
But I’ve been trying
Now I’ve gotta keep from crying
Darling, oh darling
Track Name: Thinking of Shore
There’s a man sailing around
Never on ground
Can never be found
And sometimes his sails get lost in the gails
Of a thunderstorm
And now he’s drowning at sea
Just hoping to be
Rescued somehow

But the waiting is long
And soon he’ll be gone
He knew all along this was true
His life boat is sinking
Saltwater he’s drinking
He must not be thinking of shore…

And now he’s under the waves
Too late to be saved
He’s falling down
He puts out his hand
And touches the sand
Of the ocean floor

But the waiting is long
And soon he’ll be gone
He knew all along this was true
His life boat is sinking
Saltwater he’s drinking
He must not be thinking of shore…
Track Name: Saving All My Love
I’m saving all my love for when my baby gets home
How am I gonna get by when I’m so all alone
We can talk on the telephone
But it just ain’t right until my baby gets home

When he’s around he’s a lover for sure
He’s loving me like I never been loved before
Once on the table two times on the floor
He’s a mean old man to leave me beggin for more

There are times that come to mind my head has turned for another guy
But I don’t want to even try to trade my lover for another
Here’s the reason why

I’m saving all my love for when my baby gets home
When he comes back I won’t be so alone
It seems no matter where I go
He’s the sweetest thing that I ever did know
Track Name: Train Ride to Caroline
Take a Train Ride Down to Caroline (2X)
When the wheels start rolling
You must be going
on a train ride down to carline

Don't let your baby see you cryin' (2x)
you may miss them so
but you have to let em go
don't let your baby see you cryin'

Let that railcar ease your troubled mind (2x)
on the windowpane
you have to write your name
to let that railcar ease your troubled mind

There's no getting off this train (2x)
with the distance growing
you must be knowing
that there's no getting off this train
Track Name: I Just Wanna Make Love Again
Maybe it was just a dream
Maybe it’s not what it seems
But I thought we had some magic
Oh please don’t let it end
I just wanna make love again

I’ve tried to read your mind
Maybe I’m just wasting time
The time we spent, just one night
You made me lose my head
I just wanna make love again

Maybe you have someone else
To give you happiness
Maybe someday you’ll find
That I’m the one that you like best

Darling please remember me
When you need some company
I tell you I’m not hard to find
Remember what I’ve said
I just wanna make love
You’re the one I’m dreaming of
I just wanna make love again
Track Name: Time Can Take the Pain Away
Time can take the pain away
The waiting game is done
Yesterday is far away
The morning light has come
Once there was a time to change
But it’s all come down
Time can take the pain away
When nothing else can be done

The days are growing longer now
Much later is the sun
Take a breath of springtime air
And let the calming come
Nothing could’ve changed the way
That we all become
Time can take the pain away
When nothing else can be done

So go ahead and live your life
Find another song
Go ahead no turning back
You have to move along
The memories will stay by your side
When you think he’s gone
Time can take the pain away
When nothing else can be done
Track Name: Oh No
Oh No I’m off my feet again
Oh no can’t find the street again
Up and away I’m sure to stay
Why must you treat me this way

Spinning around and around
Until I fall to the ground
Won’t you take me by the hand
When I get to dizzy to stand
All these games are about to drive me insane
I want you to know I don’t want you to go
My love’s in vain

Oh no…

Riding in your car
Just hoping to go somewhere far
Yes down that road we fly
Careless of time passing by
All these games are about to drive me insane
I want you to know I don’t want you to go
My love’s in vain

Oh no…

Taking me out at night
Dancing is such a delight
The music fills the air
And I’ve never seen someone so far
All these games are about to drive me insane
I want you to know I don’t want you to go
My love’s in vain

Oh no…

You have always known
That I’ve wanted to call you my own
I’d do anything that I can
If I could call you my man
All these games are about to drive me insane
I want you to know I don’t want you to go
My love’s in vain

Oh no…