Beautiful Blood by The Cousins Project on Thunder Ridge Records
Steve Mayone and Kristina Stykos are second cousins… but they didn’t know that until a few years ago. They lived parallel lives: songwriters, producers, independent artists. In 2006 they met by chance when Steve (who lives in Brooklyn) was playing a gig in Vermont (where Kristina lives) with his buddy Bow Thayer. Upon hearing Steve’s last name announced from the stage, Kristina introduced herself and they discovered their grandparents were siblings. In the first half of the 20th century, the Mayone family were busy brick makers, shipping bricks down the Hudson river where they were used to build such iconic structures in New York City as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Then the company collapsed, and families scattered.
Making up for lost time, Steve and Kristina began playing music together, resulting in their new album Beautiful Blood. Recorded in their home studios (Kristina’s Pepperbox Studio and Steve’s Proofbox Studio), Beautiful Blood combines their different styles into one voice: Americana, folk/rock, ballads, blues, all woven into a single tapestry. With years of writing, performing and production experience under their belts, the making of Beautiful Blood was a joyful culmination of professional compatibility and family time. As Steve said “making the album was a way to spend time together and get to know each other, musically and personally”.
Steve Mayone Bio:
Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Steve Mayone is a songwriter and performer. As a writer, he’s had his songs and instrumentals placed in independent films and tv shows, most recently Alexender Poe’s “Ex-girlfriends” and YOMYOMF’s network show “BFF’s”. Steve’s four solo CD’s have garnered excellent reviews: Americana UK says “Mayone ties up all of Americana, folk, classic and roots-rock, effortlessly flowing from one to the next and never at a loss for interest.” As a performer, Steve plays up and down the Northeast as a solo perfomer and accompanist, sharing the stage with Levon Helm, Donald Fagan, Kate Taylor and Clare Burson.
Kristina Stykos Bio:
Kristina Stykos is a songwriter, musician, producer and recording engineer. She runs Pepperbox Studios, specializing in acoustic music, located at the end of a dirt road in Chelsea, Vermont. Kristina has released two solo albums: In The Earth’s Fading Light - voted “Best Vermont Album of 2005″ by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus; and Raven - praised as a “triumph” with “big time production skills that please the ear at every turn” by No Depression and featuring Grammy nominated pianist Phil Aaberg. As a producer, she has created albums for fellow Vermont artists Bow Thayer, Robert Resnick, Wagtail and Erin McDermott, to name a few. As an artist, No Depression has said of her: “It’s not often that the poetry of words can be so well matched with its counterpart in sound and no one does this better than Kristina Stykos.”
“Kristina Stykos, one of our favorite singer-songwriters and now a top-flight local recording producer, released Beautiful Blood, a joint venture with Steve Mayone, her second cousin. The two first met in 2006 at a Vermont venue and later decided to do an album together.
Mayone is a fine musician and singer-songwriter. In his voice and delivery we hear suggestions of Steven Stills and Gerry Rafferty. The 13-song album includes seven lead vocals by Mayone and six by Stykos.They also harmonize on many of the songs. The album contains several Vermont references, such as ‘Back to Victory’ and ‘South of the Chelsea Line’, and most of the songs are delivered in an electric folk style. Jeff Berlin on drums, Scott Paulson on bass and Patrick Ross on fiddle beef up the production values, adding to Mayone and Stykos’ guitars,mandola, banjo and ukulele.
This is a very likeable album. I especially enjoyed Mayone’s singing here. Since his is an unfamiliar name and voice, it was good to be exposed to a new artist who might have otherwise slipped through the cracks. Stykos remains the insightful lyricist. Her singing, while much mellowed, continues to evolve but is always powerful. Together there is a simpatico that is genetic as well as intellectual. They are a good match, and Beautiful Blood is worthy of many listenings.” - Art Edelstein, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
“In 2006 singer songwriters Steve Mayone and Kristina Stykos met by chance at a gig and discovered they were second cousins. Fate had led them down similar paths – songwriters, producers, and independent artists. ‘Beautiful Blood’ – an Americana blend of folk / rock, ballads and blues, recorded at their home studios charts the combining of their different styles into a single tapestry.
Mayone dominates vocal proceedings in a James Taylor sort of way, although Stykos provides harmony vocals and takes the lead on several tracks. Hers is maybe a less accomplished delivery but it has a Marianne Faithful style charisma. In fact the whole set has a retro, West Coast Laurel Canyon acoustic, soft rock feel.
And while that’s rather pleasant it doesn’t exactly cut new ground and is unlikely to significantly raise their collective profiles. That said, there’s much to be enjoyed, in particular the rather lovely ‘South Of The Chelsea Line’, and the swamp bluesy ‘Sugar’ and ‘Deep Deep Baby’.” - Get Ready To Rock! (UK blog)