Review: Tattletale Saints – How Red is the Blood

listen_artworkWith only one album to date, the New Zealand duo of Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan have made quite a name for themselves as Tattletale Saints. Their debut, How Red is the Blood, recently won the New Zealand Music Award for Folk Album of the Year 2014.

On How Red is the Blood, Winstanley (guitar, vocals) and McGowan (bass, vocals) have made a quiet folk album that quickly brings to mind Paul Simon with touches of The Byrds (“We’ve Got Lakes”), Rolling Stones (“Complicated Man”) and a nod to country music forebearer, Hank Williams. Travelers in their own right, Winstanley and McGowan previously worked together in a London band before returning to their native New Zealand to form Tattletale Saints. Venturing to Nashville to record How Red is the Blood, the roots of Tattletale Saints’ brand of Americana show through.

I will sing Hank Williams’ songs
They must be right cos honey he ain’t wrong
Jesus must have taught that boy to play
Let it soak into my blood
Then baby I can feel the love
That taught a million people how to sing

Behind the light acoustic touch of Winstanley and McGowan are dense lyrics that jump to capture one’s ear:

The BBC they got it wrong
It rained the whole damn weekend long
The building leaked like a waterfall
Now it smells like a feral dog

Largely serving as Winstanley’s foil, McGowan comes center on the aptly-titled closing track, “At Last.” Beautiful in its simplicity, the song rejoices in love found and punctuates How Red is the Blood as deserving of the accolades it has thus far earned.

Stream/purchase How Red is the Blood and watch Tattletale Saints perform a cover of Dawes’ “From the Right Angle” below.

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