World Brand New, the new album from Mouths of Babes, is a ridiculously infectious collection of Americana about navigating turbulent times and forging renewal. An outstanding album that flies the flag for compassion, understanding and change.” — Folk Radio UK

“A seamless blending of Ingrid's Americana-oriented style with Ty's pop-influenced sound, Mouths of Babes might be the most compelling queer duo since the Indigo Girls.” — Bay Area Reporter

With more than a dozen albums and over a thousand shows between them, Ty Greenstein and Ingrid Elizabeth are no strangers to the contemporary folk-Americana music scene. For years, their respective bands Girlyman and Coyote Grace captivated thousands of loyal fans as they crisscrossed the country, rocked festival main stages, and toured with the likes of Indigo Girls and Dar Williams. Now they have distilled the best of the songwriting, musicianship, and humor of their previous groups into the power duo Mouths of Babes.

World Brand New, the stunning self-produced follow-up to Mouths of Babes' award-winning full-length debut Brighter in the Dark, is a Folk/Americana album in the old-fashioned sense: an album with an arc, meant to be listened to on good headphones with no distractions. With ten songs that range from stuck-in-your-head catchy to cinematic, the duo takes you on the Hero’s Journey hinted at in the cover art. The album can be read as an inner journey, a relationship coming full circle, or a national reckoning—and is meant as all of these.

World Brand New begins, somewhat deceptively, with a pair of irresistible pop songs: Ty’s title track (a hook-heavy ode to the lost analog joys of the world, written during lockdown) and Ingrid’s wedding ditty, “I Do” (about “the spell of speechlessness that falls over a person upon glimpsing their true love”).

Just when you think you know what this album will be like, Mai Bloomberg (of Raining Jane/Jason Mraz) enters on cello to introduce “One For Me,” pulling the listener deeper into the story. This moment feels like walking barefoot in a shallow lake, only to have the bottom suddenly drop out and need to swim.

In “One For Me,” Ty seems humbled, admitting that “I don’t know if we’re souls and stardust / Or just biology / Seems the only thing I know / Is you’re the one for me.” As the song fades, an oceanic synth loop begins and continues into the opening piano chords of Ingrid’s Adele-like stunner “Set You Free,” about breaking the chain of generational trauma: “Oh my babies, I beseech you / Do as I say and not as I do / Of my fate I wish to set you free / May this sickness die with me.”

The reckoning continues on a somewhat more angsty note with the Mumford-esque “Pictures of You,” which explores the experience of being ghosted: “What do I do with these pictures of you / And of us, by the millions, in cars and in canyons? / And what do you say / To a ghost, anyway?”

These are a lot of heavy questions, and the jubilant “Jubilee,” a cajun/Zydeco romp (reminiscent of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Down at the Twist and Shout” and featuring The Avett BrothersTania Elizabeth tearing it up on fiddle) arrives at the midpoint of the album to offer up an answer:

“The idea of Jubilee (the ancient tradition of forgiving debts) was the starting point for the writing of this album,” explains Ty. “I was feeling unresolved on many fronts, and then out of nowhere the friend who had disappeared (in ‘Pictures of You’) wrote me a sincere letter of apology. Despite trying to force this resolution for years, it happened by itself, when the time was right.” In this way, “Jubilee” lends a feeling of grace to the album: “This is how the Hero’s Journey goes / No one ever really knows / Who they’re gonna have to be / Just wait long enough and you’ll be free / In the Jubilee.”

The gorgeous tearjerker “Except for the Love,” which Ty wrote about her lovebird grandparents who were married for seventy-four years, boils it all down: “I’ve had my share of anger / I’ve picked my share of fights / And now I’m trying to remember / How anything can matter / Except for the love we gave each other / Except for the love.”

Ingrid’s “Summertime” is an homage to her roots—growing up queer in a small, rural town in Ohio—as well as to the duo’s many LGBTQ+ fans: “‘Summertime’ is a classic hot summer romance song—with a queer twist.” The dreamy lyrics and lap steel call to mind early Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris: “Berries in the bucket, baby's on a blanket / Tomatoes hanging heavy on the vine / The underwear is dancing to a Patsy Cline song / Out on the laundry line.”

Ingrid explains, “When it comes to inclusivity, Americana music has come a long way in the last few years. But in the current political climate, to proudly proclaim that ‘boys like her like the girls like me’ is more necessary than ever.”  

Mouths of Babes have never shied away from politics, and in the epic “My Country” Ty personifies America as an old friend who is looking worse for the wear. In a narrative that reflects the more personal themes of the album, she speaks with empathy: “I know each one of us / Has lost somebody’s trust / Despite all we thought we’d be / Sweet lands of liberty / With poems etched on our sides / Of healing the great divides / And opening every door / To the tired and the poor.”

“I feel this incredible sense of anger and disappointment about how America has not lived up to its promise,” says Ty, “and I realized that the way I feel about it is similar to how I feel about myself and everyone I love. We all start out with ideals, we all miss the mark, and we all deserve love anyway.” One of the central ideas of the album is that everyone is capable of redemption, as illustrated by the lines: “And now we may not be friends / But the long arc of character bends / Always towards the rising sun / So put down your 300 million guns.”

What better way to pull these many threads together than with a Gospel reimagining of the Holly Near classic “I Am Willing”? With a Gospel choir arrangement by Motown veteran Vicki Randle, the duo uses Near’s anthem to close the album and offer an answer to the questions in the preceding nine songs: “I am open and I am willing / To be hopeless would seem so strange / It dishonors those who go before us / So lift me up to the light of change.” By the time the choir sings the final chords, we do feel like we’ve come home—a bit worn, but hopeful and ready for what’s next.

As a proudly independent band, Mouths of Babes draws their strength (and momentum) from a fierce, loyal fan base, grown over many years as road dogs. “We feel incredibly lucky to have been able to make exactly the album we wanted to make and to have such a strong career—thanks to our amazing fans, who believe in supporting music that matters to them.”

Recorded by Grammy-winner Isha Erskine, mixed by Nino Moschella of Bird & Egg Studios and mastered by sound designer Bijan Sharifi, Mouths of Babes created the enchanting sonic landscape in World Brand New with the help of multi-instrumentalist Michael Connolly, percussionists Sean Trishka and Joe Chellman, violinist Tania Elizabeth of The Avett Brothers, cellist Mai Bloomfield of the Jason Mraz band, Tonight Show Band veteran Vicki Randle, and Grammy-nominated vocalist Melanie deMore, among others.

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