19 Sep 2020
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Tattletale Saints - Album Review: Under The Dogwoods

20 Jan 2020 // A review by Mike Alexander
There has always been a simple charm to Tattletale Saints ever since they announced themselves with the release of their debut album How Red Is The Blood in 2013.


That album deservedly took out a Tui for best Folk Album at the New Zealand Music Awards the following year and while the duo of Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan no longer call New Zealand home – they are based in Nashville, Tennessee – their OE has certainly broadened their musical horizons and palette.

Dancing Under The Dogwoods is their third album and it luxuriates with the kind of warmth and intimacy that delights the senses. Winstanley is a natural songwriter in the best of folk traditions, sometimes wearing a narrative hat at others simply weaving heartfelt stories of love and loss, highlighted on the relaxed and introspective Honest Work.

There’s a broader spectrum displayed on the Cajun-influenced Bobby Where Did You Learn To Dance – a true story about a blind man who learns to dance in a Texas bar – and the Arlo Guthrie-styled gentle hoedown of A Man Ain’t Working, while Here At Last is an elegant, poetic ode to persistence and sensing or seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

McGowan is the yin to Winstanley’s yang. Her harmonies are subtle, silky smooth, the frosted icing on the cake. She is also peerless on the upright bass, caressing, plucking and cajoling notes as if she was lost in some imaginary tango with Winstanley.

There’s a delightful surprise – a re-envisioning of Abba’s Dancing Queen. It’s more sobering and melancholic but just as alive and invigorating as the original.

Dancing Under The Dogwoods is an album wrought in the finest of songwriting traditions. You don’t need software programs to make music when you are hard-wired in the river of songs.  Me thinks, another Tui awaits Tattletale Saints.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Tattletale Saints

Tattletale Saints are a New Zealand based duo described as a “masterful blend of Americana fused with jazz, soul and pop”.

Formally part of London based band Her Make Believe Band, Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan released their debut album AM Radio (Old Oak Music) in 2009 to critical acclaim both in NZ and in the UK, including Uncut Magazine UK who described songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Winstanley as “a potent songwriter with a voice gently reminiscent of Paul Simon” while vocalist/bassist McGowan “adds beguiling harmonies”. Graham Reid, New Zealand's foremost music journalist, described AM Radio as a "delightful album...hooks you in with melodies and keeps you there by virtue of the words...very sharp stuff".

Performing as a duo under the name Tattletale Saints, Cy and Vanessa present Cy’s songs in their rawest form, with just acoustic guitar, double bass and two voices. With voices described as “love letters between Amy Mann and a slip-sliding Paul Simon” they evoke the work of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings in their musical connection and full sound belying the duo’s size.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tattletale Saints

Releases

Dancing Under The Dogwoods
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Tattletale Saints
Year: 2016
Type: Album
How Red Is The Blood
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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