Review #61: The Staves – If I Was

Artist – The Staves
Album – If I Was (2015)

Check it out –

The Staves are a Folk Rock trio from Hertfordshire, UK. The group consist of three sisters; Emily Staveley-Taylor – vocals, Jessica Staveley-Taylor – vocals, guitar and Camilla Staveley-Taylor – vocals, ukulele. Staves have gained popularity through featuring on Tom Jones’ album ‘Praise and Blame’ in 2010 and support slots with The Civil Wars and Bon Iver in 2012. Since then the band featured on ‘Later with Jools Holland’ and currently have 2 full album out, along with a string on E.Ps and Live albums. Here is The Staves second album ‘If I Was’.

‘If I Was’ is a beautifully traditional sounding album, from the classic instrumentation (acoustic guitars, strings, percussion) to the soulful and at times haunting vocals. The stand out feature on this album and in The Staves as a band is their vocal harmonies, perfectly pitched and more complicated than simply singing in octaves. Lyrics are typical of folk music, focusing on love and loss. However, rather than the lyrics being too straight forward they are slightly obscure, allowing the listener to connect their own experiences and meanings to each song. The louder tracks tend to have a great dynamic range, often built up by the snare rolls and vocal harmonies, and then calmed to a smooth single vocal track and acoustic guitar. Personal favourites would be the song ‘Black & White’ for its guitar parts, almost sounding like the guitarist was messing around, and the track ‘Make It Holy’ for being one of the calmer more peaceful songs on this album.

‘If I Was’ is another great album by The Staves, very authentic, compiled with a variety of dynamic folksy songs. As mentioned, the key to this groups sound is their extraordinary solo vocal tones and the harmonies they create when singing together.


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