A rich and rewarding experience...
'If I Was'

The bewitching Staves sisters return with a staggering sophomore album with none other than previous touring pal Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) handling production duties. Retreating to Vernon's Wisconsin based studio for some good 'ol fashioned artistic isolation, The Staves have emerged with a finely tuned set of twelve tracks that adds weight and scope to their already lovely noise.

Opener 'Blood I Bled' builds nicely over some military styled drumming and immediately sets the tone for the next forty minutes. Vernon's production is on point, focused and thoughtful while keeping the organic tendencies that make his own work so successful. Instruments weave around the sister's tranquil harmonies, never drowning them. The vocals are king and are shown due respect.

'No Me, No You' is the album's most ethereal moment - a master class in understatement which magically bleeds into following number 'Let Me Down', another highlight.

'Black And White' is a superb single ironically much closer to the likes of The Black Keys or Jack White (a name homage, perhaps?) than the group's usual sound. All jagged garage-rock guitar and pounding drum work - indeed, more rock from these girls would be a welcome thing.

'The Shining' proves the quirkiest moment. All stream on conscious styled lyrics and infectious tempo with some memorable guitar thrown on top for good measure. 'Horizons' is a pop song from a bygone era when pop was allowed more freedom, pleasant and the sort of number that gets you reaching for an acoustic.

A passionate and slow building 'Sadness Don't Own Me' ends things, it's piano ditty leading one last set of ear pleasing melodies and background sounds. Overall this is an album to be enjoyed in its entirety and proves a much more rewarding when doing so. Grab a comfy chair, wait for dusk and lose yourself. You won't regret it.

Words: Sam Walker-Smart

8/10

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