Tattletale Saints: How Red is the Blood (Old Oak/Aeroplane)

 |   |  1 min read

Tatttletale Saints: Doctor Doctor
Tattletale Saints: How Red is the Blood (Old Oak/Aeroplane)

The duo behind this debut album of sensitively understated folk and subtle simplicity have a bit of "form", we might say. They are expat Kiwis Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan who were previously in Her Make Believe Band. Their AM Radio album of two years ago got a very good notice here at Elsewhere, and McGowan offered a solo album Mermaids and Whiskey last year.

They spent time in the UK with Her Make Believe Band but -- as McGowan's more American country album suggested -- their spiritual home was increasingly the US.

But although this album was recorded in John Prine's studio Nashville -- with producer Tim O'Brien adding fiddle and mandolin to his guitar and her acoustic bass -- this is considerably less "country" than you might imagine.

In fact, in Winstanley's light but confident vocals  -- and his poetic lyrics, enunciation and emphasis -- it is impossible not to think of early-to-midperiod Paul Simon at his most gentle and wry. I defy anyone not to namecheck at least two Simon songs on hearing Doctor Doctor which includes the lines "I've seen the pictures on the subway walls, newsprint blowing down the station halls. . . .away in the distance police sirens bleat, I turn up my collar and I press through the sleet".

Add that to a delivery and melody so Simon-like it is unmistakable and . . .

Absolutely nothing wrong with this (because it works) but it would be remiss not to note it. And on the lovely Emily.

These and others are songs as memorable, lyrically considered and melodically engaging as many of Simon's, and when you add banjo (Fell Upon the Fields), the shadow of political/corporate darkness (Complicated Man), a short instrumental with echoes of Davy Graham gone to Missouri (Jessica on Prairie Legs with O'Brien's fiddle), lightly stepping narratives (Molly) and some beautiful poetry in the lyrics (the natural world celebrated as love fades on We've Got Lakes) that make this a very emotionally engaging album.

And they go out with the classic At Last ,made famous by the late Etta James, here given a country duet treatment with McGowan up front. 

Across the album Winstanley's voice is predominant with McGowan in delicious harmony, and -- that obvious reference aside -- this should be very well received, especially live.




Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Max Merritt and the Meteors: Been Away Too Long (LosTraxx)

Max Merritt and the Meteors: Been Away Too Long (LosTraxx)

The excavation of New Zealand's musical history continues with this album, even though proto-rock'n'roll star Merritt from Christchurch had shifted to Australia and by 1969 -- when this 41 minute... > Read more

The Chills: Silver Bullets (Fire/Flying In)

The Chills: Silver Bullets (Fire/Flying In)

In the past few decades we've become so conditioned to long periods between albums (talkin' 'bout you Blue Nile and Scott Walker) that these days we think nothing of a gap of five or even 10... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bad Company; Original Album Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bad Company; Original Album Series

The dinner table conversation turned to Bad Company because one of the guests announced he was going to see them in the States and, despite some agists jokes, we agreed that they were a damn... > Read more

Modou Toure and Ramon Goose: The West African Blues Project (Arc Music)

Modou Toure and Ramon Goose: The West African Blues Project (Arc Music)

The idea of a connection between West Africa and the blues is hardly new. As far back as the Thirties scholars were exploring the songlines and in his seminal The Story of The Blues book (and... > Read more