The Staves as never before
Paige Lambie
10:11 3rd February 2021

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In the near-seven years that have passed since the release of their last record, the Staveley-Taylor sisters have found themselves in the midst of farewells, heartbreaks, and grief – the most devastating of all, the loss of their beloved mother, a figure so integral in their lives as individuals, sisters, musicians. In the face of such major emotional upheaval, it would be fair to expect an album steeped in shadows and in sadness. Yet in their vulnerability, The Staves have produced their most defiant release to date. An album about finding the beauty in endings, the light in the dark. Bare-faced and bold, Good Woman has been a long time coming.

It’s there in the album opener, the title track, with it’s subtle Tango In The Night-esque ambience and sacred crescendos, building slowly into that refrain – “I’m a good woman.” The heart of the record - a resilience that beats throughout each track - is an ode to finding new strength, recognising your self-worth, waiting for nothing and no-one – to womanhood, sisterhood and motherhood. This is The Staves as never before.

In reflecting on love and loss, Good Woman is unapologetic and introspective. Those silken, three-part harmonies, otherworldly in their embrace of lyrics so direct and personal. It’s a humbling experience to listen to the pure love so jubilantly recalled on ‘Sparks’, a beautifully-penned tribute to their mother that sneaks up on you, grips you by the heart; the stifling sense of loss on ‘Paralysed’, ‘Devotion’ with its bittersweet bite and sorrow-laden guitar, the no-fucks-given attitude of ‘Failure.’

Tinged with elements of melodic pop, the trio’s penchant for blazing simplicity blossoms into full arrangements foreshadowed by 2014’s If I Was – airy, glimmering synth over tender guitar, flecked with moments of poignant euphoria from tracks like ‘Best Friend’, the golden hour of single ‘Satisfied,’ the gritty drive of ‘Careful, Kid’ and the playground nostalgia of its sombre breakdown. It’s a multi-faceted listen, each layer loaded with emotion and memory, tendrils of honesty, words that resonate. Most stirring of all, the recordings of the sisters’ friends and family woven throughout.

A record rooted in endings, Good Woman is a testament to everything the sisters have endured in the last few years, and everything they’ve learnt along the way. It’s The Staves finding their voices, stepping out from a shadow cast on them by an industry of expectations, together in their fearlessness – and it makes for their most seamless and affecting release to date.

Good Woman arrives 5 February via Atlantic Records. Read our interview with the sisters.

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Photo: Press