The Staves – Good Woman (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

The Staves – Good Woman (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 45:38 minutes | 533 MB | Genre: Indie Pop, Folk
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Atlantic Records UK

British trio The Staves‘ newest album Good Woman, makes one thing clear: It’s really hard to always be a really good person. It’s been nearly six years since the sisters—Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor—released their last album, If I Was, but the wait was well worth it. The newest record is a collection of folk-pop, with stunning harmonies and vocal collaboration, flowing from naivety into introspective epiphanies of one’s failures and mistakes. In the end, the sisters find a simple answer: maybe the best woman is the one who’s trying.

Writing and production began back in 2017, which has resulted in some tracks being recorded and layered over demos, field recordings and ambient noise—highlighting the journey it took to create each of the songs. Jessica has described the album as a patchwork of sonic spaces. They range from the very mellow, as the sisters’ voices glide over one another seamlessly, becoming one—to pure pop, with beats full of momentum and melody. Sparse, flowing lyrics and quiet acoustic backings accentuate the songs. It’s easy listening, as the stories flow organically from one to the next.

Since the Staves’ last album in 2017, the three sisters—Jessica, Emily and Camilla Staveley-Taylor—have lived through heartache. They unexpectedly lost their greatest supporter, their mother, weeks after the death of their grandmother. Within a month of that, Camilla left a seemingly troubled five-year relationship and fled her adopted home in the US for her mother’s empty house just north of London. It all came out in the songs, as did Emily’s new turn as a mother. All that pain and tenderness and wonder is beautiful, and sometimes devastating. Lovely ballad “Sparks” absolutely captures both emotions. A song for their late mom, it’s like a plea for practical magic: “I can hear your keys in the door/ I want to believe it” go the words, while the music builds to a place of jubilance. A heavy undertow of distortion and muscular drum rolls pull at the seams of “Careful Kid,” while the sisters’ sweet choir voices tread carefully: “All the kicks in the ribs, they can really make you weak/ And I’m coming back around from a five-year rebound.” The seemingly cheery finger snaps and feather-light backing vocals of “Devotion” quickly give way to somber piano and sentiments like: “Your affliction isn’t mine to hold, and/ How should I know how to?…Devotion be the death of me.” Camilla has said that she wrote some songs while still in her relationship: “That’s the most depressing thing in the world—that, in hindsight, your song is telling you to run.” Throughout, there are sonic echoes of Laura Marling, Angel Olsen and Haim, and spiritual echoes of Fiona Apple. Raised on Dylan and CSNY, the trio can pull off flawless folk harmonies (stripped-down “Nothing’s Gonna Happen” is especially a knock-out in that department) but there’s nothing retro or twee about their style. And just as notable as all the turmoil embedded in the lyrics is an eager determination to come through it alive. “Trying” is almost gothic in its haunted simplicity, the sisters singing “I’m all scared/ ‘Cause it’s been so rough/ I’ll be here/ Trying” before rising into a chant of “I’m sorry, you should be sorry, too.” Camilla has said that the Haim-like title track is about not letting yourself be belittled through someone else’s eyes. “I’m a good woman,” it swears, as much of a declaration for the one saying it as who she’s saying it to. – Shelly Ridenour

01. The Staves – Good Woman (03:17)
02. The Staves – Best Friend (04:24)
03. The Staves – Careful, Kid (03:58)
04. The Staves – Next Year, Next Time (03:54)
05. The Staves – Nothing’s Gonna Happen (03:36)
06. The Staves – Sparks (03:44)
07. The Staves – Paralysed (04:16)
08. The Staves – Devotion (04:10)
09. The Staves – Failure (04:07)
10. The Staves – Satisfied (03:40)
11. The Staves – Trying (02:24)
12. The Staves – Waiting On Me To Change (04:00)


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