Release Date: Apr 17, 2012
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative-Folk, Folk-Pop
A series of folk hymns, The Cornshed Sisters’ debut album may be the year’s most left-of-centre release. It’s a balm to modern pop and a Psalm to the power of story telling. A four-piece female vocal harmony group with an unexplained connection to Field Music, Telling Tales feels much more like a genuine ‘Songs From Northern Britain’ than the Fannies’ Americana-sunshine.
There’s a folksy something in the water in Sunderland, which The Cornshed Sisters are pulling up from the old well to make their own. In one photo, the Sisters (including Kenickie’s Marie Nixon and Jenny Brewis, married to Field Music’s Peter) are dressed as Land Girls, setting the scene for their debut. On ‘Pies For The Fair’, fools dressed as rabbits are warned, “if you pass by my garden, you could be the best pie in the show”; beautiful harmonies about mortality run through the softly strung ‘Dresden’, and ‘One By One’s rinky dink piano sees a beset mind reminded that “this old war is all in your head”.
Not actually siblings, but from a similar north-eastern folk tradition to Rachel and Becky Unthank, the Cornshed Sisters are a four-part girl harmony group who include Marie Du Santiago from Lauren Laverne's old pop-punk band, Kenickie. With songs delivered in beautifully entwined voices, themes of lost loves and watery deaths tap deep into the area's musical heritage, although the cannibalism depicted in Pies for the Fair may alarm anyone considering a house purchase in Sunderland. At best, their songs raise temperatures and eyebrows.
Home-grown loveliness abounds on this folksy debut from the north east. Jude Rogers 2012. Female siblings singing in harmony about beekeeping, water babies and stacking up bones... how very 2012 this sounds. And how odd this is. First Aid Kit's Söderberg sisters have tingled spines with their ….
This Tyne and Wear harmony-led four-piece let their voices do the talking. If that seems confusingly self-explanatory, listening to ‘Tommy’ should help to explain - the arresting effect of stark, intertwined a capella vocals is one that never loses its effect. Unfortunately, that’s also part of the problem on their debut album.‘Tell Tales’ is made up of a collection of disparate, homespun songs – sometimes backed by shades of anthemic piano, sometimes by the tripping elegance of a fingerpicked guitar, but always drawn together by the collective beauty of the group’s vocals.