“Martin Carthy has always said that there’s something special about hearing blood sing with blood and this is yet another album that supports his view. Mayone and Stykos are second cousins, something they didn’t realise until they met at a gig in 2006. While both have several solo albums out, this is undoubtedly their best work to date. Songwriting credits and lead vocals are split more or less equally and each dovetails into the other’s playing and singing perfectly.
There’s some wonderfully evocative lead guitar from Mayone on Backway To Victory and beautifully nuanced vocals on South Of The Chelsea Line while, not to be outdone, Stykos offers feisty harmonies throughout and a great lead on Sugar.
Throughout there’s that sort of understated elegance to the music that bespeaks class, draws the listener in and then rewards them with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics and delicate tunes. Trouble And Truth epitomizes this, as Stykos offers a series of beautifully constructed and evocative analogies for a troubled love that always end up ‘bringing trouble and truth/to my heart again’ while the pair layer guitar, organ and piano to create a rich tapestry that recalls Mary Chapin Carpenter’s finer moments. Jealous Girl is a perfect description as you’ll find out how it feels to be just that but it’s not all heavy duty though: the co-write Come Around is a beautiful love song that would win the heart of anyone it was sung to. An album of quiet beauty and marvelous moments.”
Jeremy Searle,Maverick Country (UK)
“Beautiful Blood is an extremely beautiful album…”
Alt Country Forum (NL)
“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, andBeautiful Blood is worthy of many listenings.”
Art Edelstein, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
“This is a fine album and I am impressed by both the individual skills and the combined talents, so both artists are worth watching going forward.”
David Hintz, Folk World (DE)
“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)
“For those who love American music in its essence, this is a good traveling companion to put in the CD player of your car.”
Michele Manzotti, ilpopolodelblues (IT)
"The cousins are Steve Mayone & Kristina Stykos. Steve is a Brooklyn based singer, songwriter and producer and Kristina is a Vermont based singer, songwriter and producer and they discovered they were cousins as late as 2006 when Mayone visited and played in Vermont and the two discovered that their grandparents were siblings.
All this actually explains a lot about this album.They have very distinct and different voices but they are both playing Americana, folk and Blues with a calm intensity that really is both attractive and irresistible. Their styles are different but complementary but when they sing together the harmonies are completely natural. I have reviewed both of them a various times, very positively, and hearing this album they actually sound as though they were the missing link of each others’ sound even though you would not have thought it at the time. I have been listening to the album for days and it has quietly insinuated itself into my environment to the extent that I found myself humming the riff from ‘Stealing Away’ at the most inappropriate times.
The songs have different characters depending on the writer with Stykos songs more forthright stories and Mayone a little more questioning and folky. When the two write together they manage to bring both elements together. ‘Rescue Me’ is a Mayone number featuring Patrick Ross’s fiddle and opens the album with a delicious piece of true Americana before Stykos ‘Backway to Victory’ brings the depth with a strong piece featuring Stykos halting vocal over acoustic guitar and crashing cymbals.
‘South Of The Chelsea Line’ was co-written and brings both styles together with sparse but delightful harmonies.They are clearly experimenting with each other’s music and discovering the places where they meet and separate but there really is a feeling of familial attraction – both of them seem to be enjoying playing with the other.I would be hard pressed to point out a weak or filler track but the one track that I keep coming back to, time and again is ‘Sugar’ which has a Patti Smith feel to the poetry of the lyrics.A delightful collaboration and well worth some very serious investigation. "
Andy Snipper, Music-News.com (UK)
“At a 2006 Bow Thayer concert in her home state of Vermont, Kristina Stykos heard the bandleader introduce sideman Steve Mayone.”Huh,” she thought. “Mayone is my middle name. Who is this cat?” Stykos introduced herself after the gig and the two discovered they were second cousins (their grandparents were siblings). They also discovered they were both roots musicians with home studios — Stykos’ in Vermont, Mayone’s in Somerville.
What followed was five years of fresh family bonding and musical correspondence leading to an album, “Beautiful Blood” by the Cousins Project. (The pair plays Club Passim on Tuesday.) “We’re from a large Italian family that lost touch with each other,” Mayone said. “So from the moment we met and realized we were on the same path, it was a relief. It was like, ‘Ah, someone to connect with.’”
“We felt a little bit like outcasts in our respective families,” Stykos said. “The more we got to know each other, the more we had in common.” Stykos cut an album in Cambridge in the ’80s. But by the time Mayone came to Boston to go to Berklee, she had moved north. Years later, Mayone joined Vermont’s Thayer as a sideman. “Bow’s almost a neighbor of mine, and I’d seen his CDs for sale at the truck stop I eat breakfast at,” Stykos said. “One day, I picked up his CD and that led me to the show where I met Steve.”
Early on, the pair knew they wanted to collaborate but didn’t know how to overcome the 200 miles between them. Slowly they started sending demos back and forth. Over years, sketches became songs as each musician would add a guitar or mandolin or vocal harmony to the mix. It wasn’t efficient, but it worked for the studio-loving musicians — both feel more at home behind the boards than fronting a band. The project also allowed the musicians to concentrate on their skill sets.