Tattletale Saints have just returned from Nashville, Tennessee where they recorded their debut album entitled How Red Is the Blood.
Now based in New Zealand, Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan were formerly part of acclaimed London based group Her Make Believe Band. The duo present Cy’s songs in their rawest form, with just acoustic guitar, double bass and voices described as “love letters between Aimee Mann and a slip-sliding Paul Simon”.
Tattletale Saints recorded at Butcher Shoppe Studios, owned by Grammy award winning engineer David Ferguson and acclaimed singer-songwriter John Prine, and the birthplace of many Johnny Cash hit recordings.
Cy and Vanessa enlisted the help of top bluegrass/folk songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim O’Brien to produce the album. O’Brien won a Grammy in 2005 for his album Fiddler’s Green.
“It was a huge honour to work with Tim.” Exclaims Cy. ” Vanessa and I have been massive fans for a long time and he’s right up there with the best in the world for our style of music. Plus, to have cut the record in John Prine’s studio in Nashville…that’s serious business!”
To add to a recording experience steeped in history, the plate reverb used on the album is the actual reverb unit from the legendary Grand Old Opry that was bought, and then relocated to the studio.
The money for the album was raised via the crowd-funding website Pledgeme.co.nz. With over 220 supporters, Tattletale Saints’ album project has the highest amount raised by a band through a New Zealand crowd-funding site to date.
How Red Is the Blood is a collection of poignant stories and observations portrayed evocatively by Winstanley. His voice and McGowan’s harmonies possess a delightful complementary clarity as they soar across delicately played guitar and double bass, with an occasional wash of harmonica.
The track ‘Traces Of You’ is a sweet melancholy Cinderella-esque tale of meeting, then losing a loved one at a New Year’s dance and resigning one’s self to dining on the memories.
‘Fell Upon The Fields’ is a banjo driven song that yearns for the open spaces of the country, by describing the bleakness and hemmed-in feeling of a wet winter’s day in a big city and by contrast, the joy when the rain ‘fell upon the fields’. Winstanley artfully welds a wistful, minor pre-chorus to a major chorus as the mood shifts with the protagonist’s thoughts from the hardships of urban life to the freedom and beauty of the hinterland.