Released: 5th February 2021
It has been more than a decade since Watford based three-piece The Staves began serenading us with their silken triple harmonies and down-home indie-folk sound. Their latest and fifth album release, ‘Good Woman’ sees the trio incorporate smatterings of synth and distortion to caveat their trademark rustic vibe with a modern pop edge.
There’s an earthy, tactile tone found within these tracks that can only be crafted with well-placed instruments and perfectly synchronised voices. Ranging from muted, heartfelt solos to choral, symphonic melodies, the vocal performances of sisters Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor fill the sonic space with a warm energy that imbues every song with emotion. Though the lyrics are often sombre or melancholic, the angelic tonality of The Staves makes it hard to dwell for too long. Insecure, self-critical track ‘Failure’ has an unavoidable sense of unity spurred from the harmonic chorus that kicks in with a satisfying catharsis. Even something as simple as melodic hums elevates the most stripped back songs such as ‘Waiting On Me To Change’ into intimate, dreamy ballads.
Though the centre-stage is usually given to the vocals, ‘Good Woman’ features an array of instrumental moments that often stray from the expected. ‘Best Friend’, for example, builds up as it progresses with looped horns, synthesised piano, and even the occasional jazz flute to form a surprising tune, full of excitement and hope. Across the album, brief features from grungy distorted strings, folksy slide guitar, and subtle woodwind occur sparingly enough to build intrigue and add a pleasing intricacy without drawing attention from the vocal melodies.
‘Good Woman’ is a wonderful blend of simple folk staples and modern indie-pop sounds that underpin three golden voices. Deeply satisfying and rich in audible depth, it is a testament to The Staves’ commitment to add to their discography with yet more heartfelt bangers.