A fine return from a lauded institution...

Six years is a long time to leave between albums, but one listen to the title track and opener for the third full-length from The Staves reveals both all that can change with the passing of time and all that remains from the things that have made this trio of sisters such a potent and wonderful musical force over the last several years.

Still in place are the ubiquitous beautiful harmonies, clever, sometimes sweet and sometimes biting lyrics and the deceptively powerful musical flourishes that make the band so special, but added to the mix is a dash of increased musical power, undoubtedly from the band but aided by clever production from John Congleton. And that’s just the first song.

These thirteen tracks, detailing joys and sorrows, love and loss, indicate that The Staves are as vital as ever. “We could be better than, better than all of them” they sing together on ‘Best Friend’ and while the song is probably about the excitement of a developing relationship, it could also be a comment on the potential status this band could be lifted to by this fabulous album.

Whether on the restrained ‘Nothing’s Gonna Happen’, splendidly infused with Cello and brass, or on the more driving ‘Devotion’, one of several songs to be propelled by cleverly-deployed loops and electronic inflections which add much to the palette of the band ( or in several places besides) 'Good Woman” serves as a fine artistic statement of a developing musical institution.

8/10

Words: Haydon Spenceley

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