The Staves: Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic)
Songs in the finest tradition of Anglo and American folk
Dead & Born & Grown marks the first time that esteemed producer Glyn Johns – noted for work with The Beatles and the Stones, amongst others – and his son Ethan (Laura Marling, Ryan Adams, etc) have worked on the same project: an alliance all the more remarkable for both men being individually attracted to The Staves.
It's not hard to tell why. The acappella harmonies of the three Staveley-Taylor sisters on the opening "Wisely & Slow" have such sweet clarity, blending country charm with the playful insouciance of The Andrews Sisters, that resistance seems impossible.
Wisely, the Johns afford the voices plenty of space, with just an organ drone fading quietly in after a minute, as the sisters muse upon the fate of a bereaved woman, asking, "Why is it you whisper when you really need to yell?" It's as perfect and precious as a Fabergé trinket, and it establishes a style, and a quality, that's repeated throughout the album. Not to mention a theme: on "Gone Tomorrow", the sweet sorrow of parting is crystallised in harmony over fingerstyle guitar, placid drums and organ; in "Tongue Behind My Teeth", a fonder farewell is mapped out in a cantering jangle of guitars and layered counterpoint harmonies; and with "Snow", the warm jangle serves as a quilt against the blanketing snow of separation.
Hailing from Watford, The Staves are like a distillation of all that's best about the folk heritages of England and America. On "Winter Trees", their voices have that cold, sharp precision born of the Anglo folk tradition; while "In The Long Run" presents a more American flavour, with the simple purity of the guitar recalling Simon & Garfunkel, and their harmonies embodying the innocence of West Coast hippie idealism.
The two traditions come together perhaps most strikingly on the languid, drowsy "Pay Us No Mind", where antique diction – "tarry" and "thee", etc – is suddenly exploded by the expletive in the line, "I don't give a fuck." But the real surprise is that it doesn't fracture the song at all, so adeptly do the girls negotiate the change. Magical stuff.
Download: Wisely & Slow; Gone Tomorrow; Snow; Pay Us No Mind
Grace Dent on TVtv
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 2 Mother of newborn Baby No 59 trapped in sewer pipe told Chinese police she 'heard crying' when she raised alarm
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 This crazy skiing video will leave you feeling queasy
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Photographer Matt Lankes' portraits of the cast of Boyhood influenced the film's storyline
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks