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
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Greece crisis: Alexis Tsipras accepts troika bailout proposals with conditions
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
The Rolling Stones announce biggest ever touring rock exhibition with Saatchi Gallery
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
Guillaume Tell gang-rape scene causes uproar at the Royal Opera House
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS