Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
You'll find the three sisters Staveley-Taylor - of the Watford, England group The Staves, down and around the bend, nestled into the hillside of a beautiful verdant valley. It's the setting that you'd expect would help them draft up the airy and rustic music that they write, but they aren't alone out there. They might wake up in the mornings, after an overnight pouring and spot tracks in the muddiness surrounding their grounds. There would be the footprints of raccoons, deer and birds, but there would also be plenty of prints left by the ghosts of their past. They might even see some familiar tread as it would be easy to imagine that they could have been out there tramping around, sleepwalking their ways through their very active nocturnal imagery.
The songs that the Staves performed on this session feel as if they're exclusively written or meant for the pre-dawn hours, or those that come after the 10 o'clock news. They're songs that spend their time digging into thoughts that need more incubation, more ruminating. They are thoughts that people don't just think for a flash and then dismiss. These are the theories and the theses that preoccupy lives. They are coming from heads and hearts that are mostly clear, but still foggy. There's some sweet indecisiveness sewn in, but more so a form of clarity attached to those tricky slivers of feeling and emotion.
They (Emily, Jessica and Camilla) sing - in some of the most enchanting harmonies that you'll ever hear -- "I burn, I break, I try to do right/You ache, you kiss, you curse/But you lie with me tonight/I am a wisp of a woman/Caught in a gust of wind, I disappear like smoke," on "I Try," giving us a sense of the vapor that they deal in. It's all there. It's the untouchable and impermanent being, along with the confused misdirection of desire, all thrown out there, sitting like a hot bath.