Tattletale Saints have built their career on exploring new territory.
Formed in New Zealand and currently based in Nashville, the duo takes a unique approach to Americana music, rolling jazz influences, coed harmonies, upright bass, and electric guitar into a sound that's as wide-ranging as the band's own travel schedule. With their self-titled sophomore album, Tattletale Saints push that sound into new directions, adding full-band arrangements and sharp, observational storytelling to the mix.
Bandmates Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan began performing together years ago in a New Zealand-based jazz ensemble before relocating to London, where they experimented with country music as one half of the four-piece Her Make Believe Band. Drawn to Nashville's creative community, the two eventually headed to Nashville in January 2013 to record their first record as a proper duo, teaming up with Grammy-winning producer Tim O'Brien along the way. That album, How Red is the Blood, became a launching pad for Tattletale Saints, earning them an audience on both sides of the Pacific Ocean while also winning the New Zealand Music Award for Folk Album of the Year in 2014.
Now living full-time in Nashville, Tattletale Saints expand their sound with Tattletale Saints, a self-titled album of forward-thinking roots music. Produced by Josh Kaler (Matthew Perryman Jones, Dar Williams, Heather Nova), the album finds frontman Winstanley embracing his role as a storyteller, penning slice-of-life songs about the light and dark shades of love and heartbreak; folk tales of murder and atonement; and musings on aging rock stars. He plays more electric guitar this time around, too, drawing a line of evolution between the acoustic-based How Red is the Blood and the band's new material. Meanwhile, McGowan's upright bass helps root the band in the Americana tradition, holding down a foundation for Tattletale Saints' ever-evolving sound.
With Winstanley and McGowan also performing as sidemen alongside other Nashville-based songwriters like Aubrie Sellers, Andrew Combs, Kelsey Waldon, Erin Rae and Michaela Anne, the duo's new album brims with the band's best playing to date. More than anything, though, the self-titled Tattletale Saints shines a light on a band that's spent years on the move, chasing down new songs, new sounds, and new inspirations along the way. This is just another stop on the journey.
Written by Andrew Leahey, Nashville TN
“Intelligent, entertaining and thoroughly captivating”
Sing Out! Magazine, March 2014
"How Red Is The Blood is the Nashville recorded effort of two New Zealanders who describe the pleasure and plight of a people, addressing modern societal rifts with acerbic, beguiling wit... I don’t know what the answers are to many of the questions How Red Is The Blood asks, but I do know this: folk music lives, and this is it".
Amercian Standard Time, September, 2014
“Beautiful organic folk songs…shimmers like an Indian summer afternoon…their knife edge still hews to folk’s clarion call to challenge injustice, and it still cuts to the bone.”
Acoustic Guitar Magazine, September 2014
“There is a timeless quality to the Tattletale Saints music, simultaneously classic roots and modern revival, placing them alongside the more notable artists of today's scene. There are elements of folk, good old Appalachia style music, and a splash of country in their sound, too, which they do exceedingly well. And this all comes together to create well-written songs with stirring vocals”
No Depression, August 2014
"Sensitively understated folk and subtle simplicity…songs as memorable, lyrically considered and melodically engaging as many of Paul Simon’s…a very emotionally engaging album"
Graham Reid, elsewhere.co.nz, March 2013
"Cy is a beautiful singer, melodic yet conversational, and a vocal resemblance to Paul Simon is only heightened by the ambitiousness of his songwriting…in the unadorned setting of the duo it becomes clear how complete that talent is"
Nick Bollinger, The Listener, April 2013.
"There is something utterly beguiling about a musician armed with a guitar and a suitcase full of memories, which need little or no adornment.There's nowhere to hide, the voice has to engage you and the songs have to have substance. That's the natural, unadulterated beauty of Tattletale Saints debut album. Cy Winstanley has the rich voice and lyric instincts of a Paul Simon and his foil, the equally talented Vanessa McGowan adds lovely punctuation harmonies and the sort of swinging bass lines that you'd expect from a jazz musician."
4.5/5 Mike Alexander, Sunday Star Times, April 2013