Album Review: The Staves, ‘If I Was’
Since revealing that they were working with Justin Vernon for their sophomore album, we've been dying to get our hands on the Staves' If I Was. The disc combines the honest lyrics and vocals of the Staveley-Taylor sisters with the textured sounds that the Bon Iver founder is known for, making for a phenomenal step forward for the trio.
Before getting into what makes this album breathtaking, it's important to give the Staves a proper introduction. While they've made a name for themselves in their U.K. home with their 2012 debut LP, Dead & Born & Grown, they are not as much of a staple in the U.S. Emily, Camilla and Jessica Staveley-Taylor are sisters from Watford, England, and will easily get many references to other sibling groups -- for comparison sake, the Staveley-Taylor sisters are a blend of Haim's spunkiness with First Aid Kit's folk sensibility. With their sophomore LP, they show maturation and progression with their precise and seamless vocal harmonies, taking their music a step further -- a combination you get from the very beginning with "Blood I Bled."
Despite the sadness that oozes out of the lyrics in many of the tracks, the music creates an absolutely beautiful listening experience (not dissimilar to the way we enjoy a great Bon Iver track).
Whether or not the Staves' time at Vernon’s April Base Studios in Eau Claire, Wisc., had an effect on the topics they covered, the constant building of harmonies -- especially on "Let Me Down" -- is a signature that's found in a lot of Bon Iver tunes. His most audible contribution is on "Make It Holy" as his vocals give the song an even rounder tone.
If I Was is full of strong songs, but the one that shows the band's greatest growth is "Black & White." Starting off a capella, the track lets the music build upon itself to the chorus, crafting an unforgettable sonic journey. The Staves are ready to take on the world ... and we can't wait to see them do it, taking what they've created in the studio and bringing it to life on the stage.