Her Make Believe Band
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Her Make Believe Band

Band Americana Pop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Favourite discovery of 2009!"

"Her Make Believe Band simply enchant with their timeless, well crafted songs and stunning harmonies. Mingling influences from country, roots and jazz with vintage keyboards, luscious guitars and warm vocals, these guys are without doubt one of my favourite discoveries of 2009." - Jen Roberts - Behind The Mic, London

"A potent songwriter... beguiling harmonies"

Trad eclecticism from Kiwi/ London Quartet.
"Old time" music played on vintage instruments, and recorded on pre-digital technology usually means sepia-tinted pastiches of Americana. HMBB's musical vision ambitiously extends beyond such constraints to embrace jazz ("Nobody's Business"), and rocking blues ("Having You Around"), as well as more predictable acoustic folk and country idioms. In Cy Winstanley they have a potent songwriter with a voice gently reminiscent of Paul Simon, while fellow Kiwi Vanessa McGowan adds beguiling harmonies.
(Nigel Williamson) - Uncut Magazine UK - December 2009

"A stunning debut album... Winstanley's songs are intelligent and original"

This debut album from the strangely named Her Make Believe Band can’t be said to be an obviously country album, but then it isn’t quite any other genre either. Their music defies categorisation and effortlessly mixes elements of pop, country, soul, blues, folk and jazz in a refreshing and attractive blend. There is no trace of contrivance or conceit; this seems to come entirely naturally to the band .

...Winstanley’s songs are intelligent and original. He has an attractive voice that adapts to the broad variety of arrangement and there is a quality of sweet melancholy in his delivery that suit’s the songs and is augmented by the lovely harmony vocals and spacious arrangements. Stay has shades of iconic pop band Prefab Sprout and is full of rich vocal harmonies that are complemented with a tasteful string arrangement towards the end of the song. The title track has a gentle, Paul Simon-like reflective quality, Nobody’s Business has a strong soul influence and That’s Why I Like You The Best has a Dylanesque aspect. Most memorable of all is Lonely Soul, which is a beautifully articulated song of heartbreak.

...They seem to be able to try out whatever musical style they fancy without losing their own identifiable sound and somehow maintaining continuity.

...A stunning debut album.
- Country Music People Magazine

"Exquisite songs and beautiful harmonies... An absolute must see!"

“Exquisite songs and beautiful harmonies. Her Make Believe Band deliver a richly instrumented interpretation of modern day alt country music with all the charm of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch. An absolute must see!” - Frances Dickinson - Forbidden Joe, NZ

"One of the best new acts around"

"One of this year’s unexpected highlights in our concert series... a breath of fresh air on the acoustic scene... they capture the textures of old-time melodies with a progressive sweetness and tenderness rare in today’s folk scene. With tight harmonies, superb songwriting and musicianship...this remarkable duo is one of the best new acts around" - Richard Leschen, Bunker Hill Folk Review, NZ

"Possibly the best live act we've ever had!"

"Her Make Believe Band at Showcase 55 on March 12th 2009 was the performance of the year, the pub was transfixed...possibly the best live act we have ever had, seriously!"
Matt - Showcase 55 - Podcast - Matt @ Showcase 55 London

"Captivating performance!"

"The performance was captivating... harmonies that were deliciously effortless and smooth as silk" - Raeywn - Nightingales Supper Club - Auckland, NZ

"Confident and infectious... a truly worthwhile addition to anyones music collection."

The debut long player from this quirky band hailing from Auckland, but based in London, is a confident and infectious piece of work. Based around the songwriting talents of Cy Winstanley, they produce a masterful blend of Americana fused with Jazz, Soul and Pop. The bubblegum melodies are given extra depth by the vocal harmonies of Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan, with Winstanley sounding uncannily like a cross between Paul Simon and Tim Finn.

The previously mentioned vocal harmonies are used to great effect on the album opener Welcome Home, a song that sounds like a long lost 10,000 Maniacs masterpiece. The production is excellent, allowing the songs to breath and beautifully warm. The title track and The Last Hour however, manage to steal the limelight. Building slowly through out, both are lovingly crafted slices of Americana.

This is an easy album to get into, sure the lyrics are throwaway, but the music is seriously good. Sometimes you just want to listen to something that isn't trying to change the world. It does have its tender moments though on Lonely Soul and I Can't Help Dreaming Of You, both having a feel of Neil Young, Harvest Moon era, about them.

This is a record that is hard to pigeon hole and all the more enjoyable for it. A truly worthwhile addition to anyone's music collection.

On a non musical note, the digi pak packaging of the cd is made from 100% recycled cardboard and biodegradable paper foam. A nice touch. - www.themusiccritic.co.uk

"Beautiful and original tunes..."

Celebrated as one of the most exciting new alternative country acts around, Her Make Believe Band have undoubtedly created some beautiful and original tunes...

...They have the right mix of smart lyrics and sweet melodies that appeal to the old romantic in me. - Morning Star - November 2009

"A little gem of a release!"

This is the first album from New Zealander songwriter Cy Winstanley, and he’s put a band together who remind me very much of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci in that they combine beautiful melodies with a fragility that is a joy to behold. Add in some light folky stylings and the requisite amount of alt country noodlings and you’ve got a little gem of a release.
- The Crack Magazine – November 2009


"AM Radio", album, Old Oak Music, 2009



Led by New Zealanders Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan, Her Make Believe Band is a London born band described as a "masterful blend of Americana fused with jazz, soul and pop".

Her Make Believe Band has been getting rave reviews in New Zealand and the UK for debut album, AM Radio (Old Oak Music, 2009), including Uncut Magazine UK who describes songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Cy Winstanley as "a potent songwriter with a voice gently reminiscent of Paul Simon" while vocalist/bassist Vanessa McGowan "adds beguiling harmonies".

Cy Winstanley cut his musical teeth in New Zealand singing, playing guitar and harmonica and, after a passing teenage obsession with guitar rock, discovered bluegrass, jazz and blues, eventually meeting fellow New Zealander, bassist Vanessa McGowan.

Following the urge to discover his Liverpudlian roots, Cy moved to London in 2004 and, upon their reunion in 2007, Cy convinced Vanessa she could sing and Her Make Believe Band was born.

Joined on AM Radio by keyboardist Sebastian Weiss and drummer Tom Greenhalgh, Her Make Believe Band performs in London as a four-piece band and as an acoustic duo.

Her Make Believe Band’s debut album, AM Radio, is out now through itunes worldwide, Amazon MP3 (US and UK), Rough Trade London, amplifier.co.nz and direct from Old Oak Music.


"In Cy Winstanley they have a potent songwriter with a voice gently reminiscent of Paul Simon, while fellow Kiwi Vanessa McGowan adds beguiling harmonies"
Uncut Magazine

"...a masterful blend of Americana fused with Jazz, Soul and Pop... A truly worthwhile addition to anyone's music collection" (4.5 out of 5) www.themusiccritic.co.uk

"A stunning debut album... Winstanley's songs are intelligent and original"
Country Music People Magazine

"Beautiful melodies with a fragility that is a joy to behold... a little gem of a release."
Crack Magazine UK

"Their songs are as pretty and romantic as the Southern Cross itself. Sweetened by Cy’s mellifluous delivery and double bass player Vanessa McGowan’s gorgeous harmonies, they sound like love letters between Amy Mann and a slip-sliding Paul Simon."

(See press section for full quotes)