The Staves – Good Woman
Good Woman is a welcome return for The Staves with rejuvenated purpose and direction. The album is a versatile amalgamation of grief, break-ups and battling criticism, less metaphorical than poetically conversational and more forthright than what we’ve previously heard from the sister trio.
The title track is deserving of its position, possessing many sides whilst encompassing the root message. The piece includes traces of conversations from their mother and grandmother – both having passed away in 2018 – and reflects the turbulence of re-grounding after being made to feel inadequate. Despite its weighted heart, the song is a self-assured introduction to their statement of resilience and self-belief.
The essence of this band is their celestial vocals, which echo through Next Year, Next Time with radiant depth. This trademark multi-layered effect illuminates emotion and growth as complex experiences, neither one-dimensional nor linear. Airiness pads the structure of Best Friend, a number that initially feels hard to place. However, such an effect works in favour of describing the fleeting possibilities which arise upon meeting someone and a new, sensory exploration of sound sweeps the piece. With hints of pop, the song expands like an exhale, fluttering with hope and a fresh dynamic that suits the ensemble. Similarly, Devotion is a compelling recording, its earthy, confident drive a poignant contrast to its message of “devotion be the death of me”. A newfound presence can be sensed, a restorative clarity that ripples through the work.
Vulnerability is embraced with equal attention to rage. Careful Kid and Trying have quieter qualities, with stripped-back honesty visible in crystal cut vocals, at times resemblant of suffering angels. Paralysed acknowledges the cracks in a relationship, expressing an ache to feel understood and noticed. Solo vocals and a ukulele draw us into both retrospection and foreboding, the song’s intimate intro enhancing the eventual melodic climax.
Nothing’s Gonna Happen is trancelike, a sifting through fragile reflections seemingly about a lover with undercurrents of struggling to maintain originality under ruthless scrutiny. Failure offers uncharacterised guts with a “sorry not sorry” vibe. It’s an original approach to unsaid break-up comebacks that makes “I’m sorry if I pissed on your party” incredibly refreshing to hear. The same courage finds a more composed form in Waiting On Me To Change, a comforting end note of jazzy rolling waves. It’s a tribute to a planted seed, laid out with admirable independence.
The band’s past work was tough to beat, their dreamlike folk both unpredictable and dramatic. But the trio have acquired a directness, elevating them to an untouchable resolution, the mature but no less charged product of a destabilising few years. Their ability to propel their voices with intoxicating lustre remains. The Staves have returned with punchy confrontation – fearless of imperfection – and have proved they are far from beaten.
Good Woman is released on 5th February 2021. For further information or to order the album visit The Staves website here.
Watch the video for the single here: