Watford sisterly trio The Staves release their third album ‘Good Woman’, their first full-length in six years, amidst a combination of personal turmoil interspersed with small victories. In addition to a global pandemic (I’m sure you’ve heard…), relationships broke down and most heartbreakingly of all, the Staveley-Taylor sisters lost their mother and grandmother within a matter of weeks of each other. It is the strength they have been passed from these maternal figures which they have used to overcome the adversity which they have faced, and this informs the material on ‘Good Woman’.
The title track was borne from the sisters screaming “I am a good woman” communally, and it is a more than apt title with overriding powerful statements of femininity permeating the record. The vocal harmonies, which The Staves are so renowned for are instantaneously dreamy and a welcome comfort blanket. ‘Best Friend’ is as delightful as they have ever sounded, with velvet harmonies wrapped around a chorus to die for.
There is far more diversity on ‘Good Woman’ than on previous efforts, with the droning guitars and pulsing synths which throb through the gritty ‘Careful, Kid’ and fierce lashings of self-doubt dripping in scathing sarcasm on the excellent ‘Failure’. What they do best, however, is abundantly evident on the exceptional ‘Nothing’s Gonna Happen’. A tender ballad with luscious vocals which gently soar as they sing of intimate self-doubt - “tell me what happens, will I be okay? I can see the fire from a mile away”.
The uplifting ‘Waiting On Me To Change’, which closes the record, is a masterpiece which the great Carole King would be proud of. Veering in and out of individual vocal melodies to choral harmonies, the valiant message of “I’ll be fine, I’ll change when I want to” ends a boldly fearless record on a positive note.
In the period between albums, the Staveley-Taylors have maintained their reputation as the go-to voices for dreamy accompaniment, performing with acts as diverse as Bon Iver, Flyte and Paul Weller, but ‘Good Woman’ is proof, if we ever needed it, that The Staves are still vital when performing their own material. While the landscape has become more saturated in the gap between their records, it is only really Laura Marling who is able to come anywhere close to them in delivering consistently excellent modern folk-inspired anthems. ‘Good Woman’ is a defiant statement, unashamed to show vulnerability, and is a perfect emotional companion for when the world gets too much – an all-too-familiar feeling in current times.
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