Made up of a trio of British sisters, Jessica, Emily and Camilla Staveley-Taylor, the sound of The Staves is distinctly characterized as “acoustic folk rock”. Signed to Atlantic Record in 2011, their rise in music can definitely be described a humble one, having started their career as The Staveley-Taylors singing covers and performing at open-mic nights in their local pub in Watford. Nowadays, after collaborating with Tom Jones and Ffion Regan as well as supporting the likes of The Civil Wars and Bon Iver in concert in their early years, these sisters are being mentioned in the same breathe as the likes of internationally acclaimed Folk stars Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling.
One of the early songs from The Staves that caught our attention is “Icarus” taken from their Mexico EP. Named after the character in Greek mythology, and also referencing it in the lyrics of the song, “like Icarus before me, these wings are not my own”, “Icarus” is a soft melody and a great introduction to The Staves for those who are not familiar with the singer-songwriters. “They’re only words, don’t have to shout to be heard” is a lyric that perfectly reflects the nature of the song. The acoustic and electric guitars smoothly play interchangeably from beginning to end, forming the central musical bed for the song, while the sisters beautifully sing in sync transitioning perfectly between notes. Their vocals display a harmony so rare that it must only be found amongst siblings. Each sister does not miss a beat as they chime in with their unique voices that provide an enjoyable and compelling listening experience for the listener.
Taken from their debut EP of the same name and also found on their debut album Dead & Born & Grown, “Facing West” has an easy-going feel to it as it is introduced with ukulele arrangements accompanying the sisters’ vocals with acoustic guitar and string arrangements, whistling sounds and humming melodies also adding to the sonic bed of the track. One of the sister take the vocal lead on the verses while all three of them come together for the chorus and the bridge, showing they can create a variance in what’s expected of them in their music. Although the musical background may be light, the subject matter is on the heavier side and as the line sung shows, “show me the path down to the shoreline cos I don’t know if I can do this anymore”, it speaks about deciding to let go of a relationship that no longer provides you with what you need. “Facing West” is a great listen for a topic many are familiar and experienced with, but this doesn’t allow you to wallow like a love ballad. The quirky tune allows you to reflect without going into a sad mood.
On “Winter Trees“, also taken from the Dead & Born & Grown album, the subject matter is similar to as on “Facing West” in that it is about another relationship gone wrong, the mistakes that were made as well as the regrets that The Staves have about the failed relationship as shown in the lyric, “I never meant to say any of those things, words can sound so cruel when you speak before you think”. It seems to be a very personal song coming from a vulnerable place as one sister sings, “you didn’t understand my heart was in your hands, you were so blind”, followed by the sadness of how little love she has left for her former partner, “I couldn’t love you any less than now”. The song, though very melancholic, is still a captivating listen, especially over the musical backdrop of lush acoustic guitar arrangements and hard-hitting drums.
The Staveley-Taylor sisters have proven to be a welcomed addition to the Folk music genre over the past two years, as they are bringing in their own style and making sincere music that their fans and listeners will appreciate and relate to. Having released a live version of their debut album with added bonus tracks cleverly titled Dead & Born & Grown & Live, you can catch The Staves performing in the U.K, Ireland and Germany this month as they continue on their Autumn UK/EU tour which ends in Norwich on November 6. To keep up with The Staves, their website has the latest on where they will be performing next and you can purchase their debut album Dead & Born & Grown right now via iTunes.
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Written by Halimat Shode // Edited by Ayo Adepoju