“I don’t think there’s anything nicer in the world than being sung to”. Thus spake Emily, oldest of the three Stavely-Taylor sisters. Yes, it’s a statement reeking with the middle-class sentimentalism that both hounds and powers much of this new folk scene – but when you have voices like these?
The Staves are perhaps the strongest contenders I’ve come across so far in the mire that is English revivalism – yes, stronger than Mumford and all their sons. There’s a space and a harmonic maturity in their songwriting which blows away any snarling Marling elephants in the room, setting them all by themselves in a plush regency era chaise lounge in the corner with the best acoustics. And they have the lyrical chops to go with it as well; doses of bluesy country pathos (‘Tender woman mourns a man/ Sits in silent sorrow with a bottle in her hand’) slink around the corners of laconic Londonite gems (‘Pick me up, Wish me luck/ Fare thee well, I don’t give a fuck anymore’). Naive knowhow. Nice work if you can get it.
The Motherlode EP is The Staves’ second for Atlantic in around 6 months, and it’s an exceedingly pleasant surprise that they haven’t yet been persuaded by the big boys to rush out a full-length. The band and backers have obviously chosen to go the exposure rather than the promotion route, picking up slots at festivals ubiquitous (SXSW), folkster hip (Sasquatch), and downright twee (Dinefwr literature). Add this to a US-wide tour support slot alongside none other than the bearded bard himself, Justin Vernon and the Bon Iver posse – well. We just might have something very vital on our hands.
Released on 22nd April 2012 by Atlantic Records