Mon April 22, 2024

The Staves: The Good Woman Tour

It was in December 2022 that The Staves celebrated the 10th anniversary of their debut album Dead & Born & Grown - a strange and beautiful period in the lives of sisters and band members Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor, making their fourth album All Now with the same organic vulnerability as that first record: except now everything was different, and they kind of were too.

All Now emerges, bold and bright, from a period of quiet, which followed a period of chaos, for the band. When Good Woman was released in 2021, to positive reviews, it felt like "an echoing silence" to share such a cathartic album with a world shut down. So The Staves had to retreat, again, and actually wrestle with everything they had been through.

"There was a delayed reaction to trauma and these big changes out of your control," says Jess of the period that came after Good Woman, as the band - like the rest of us - were forced to sit with their thoughts, but also still processing the death of their mother and other seismic changes: Emily takes a backseat on this album (while still contributing vocals on a handful of tracks) to focus on motherhood, while Camilla reckoned with her own mental and physical health issues - chronic pain and a series of operations due to Endometriosis began to take an increasing toll.

"It all culminated in making me feel extremely alienated," says Camilla. "Suddenly your body is doing something completely out of your control - depression reared its ugly head again and it sparked an identity crisis. It was a turning point." So The Staves did what they know how to do best, and got back to writing. The idea was to go against most of what they'd been doing for the last few years by going back to basics and focusing almost solely on each other and their guitars as a starting point.

It began with Jess, navigating this new landscape by harnessing her creativity on her own at first in the studio in Hackney at the end of 2022, slowly luring Camilla back to the next chapter of The Staves, before reaching out to super-producer John Congleton (Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen), who the band had worked with on Good Woman, to help them figure out the next step in the studio. "After this feeling of slow motion for a couple of years, it suddenly accelerated wildly towards the finish line," the band say of the weeks that follow: packing up and heading to LA to meet Congleton and musicians Max Hart and Tamir Barzilay to bring to life what this next album really could be.

The result? An album as rich and honest as all the most profound music by The Staves scattered across albums for the last decade, calcified here into something special. There's the buoyant nostalgia on 'After School', a love letter to Emily from her little sisters "looking back on the simpler times" and reflecting on those teenage days shuffling into that one bedroom with the CD player to play the new Sheryl Crow album. "That late '90s period was just fucking fun," says Camilla. "We thought Emily was the coolest, so we thought we may as well go full throttle with a really joyful song."

That gung-ho confidence shines on the magnificent 'Great Wave', beginning with folklore on an enormous wave in Portugal, Nazare - a very literal thing - and spiralling out into something borderline spiritual to speak to the ebb and flow of the last few years. "The wave is your fear, this thing to overcome," says Jess. "That could be thrilling and brilliant, but also terrifying: do you jump into it? Or do you run away?" The answer, for The Staves, is to take control back with both hands - defy expectations not just of those who might happily dismiss the sisters for sweet harmonies and little else, but for the musicians themselves, rising from the ashes in wholly unpredictable ways.

That sense of self-rediscovery blooms fully on the album's title track, a distillation of the cacophony of our modern society, understanding the overwhelming nature of just trying to get through it all, but accepting it and not shying away. The song came quick and fast for Camilla and Jess: "These are things running through your head that you really need to say and get out." Musically it's majestic, a steady pulsating beast that grows until the tension is almost too much and suddenly, a release.

Much of the strength of All Now comes from the piercing vocal and harmonic clarity, the humble elements that have always made The Staves who they are, only with the years of experience and growth to take their writing to the next level. "You got the magic I think I missed it Homesick for a place that never existed," they sing on 'I Don't Say It, But I Feel It' a track that "shakes itself out of being too soppy", at once speaking to the grounded mode of writing (acoustic guitar and vocals) and exploring a driving force to take charge of these difficult emotions.

It comes to a head on 'Make A Decision', perhaps the manifesto of the next era of The Staves: change, but power in finally embracing the unknown. After the deep solitude and pain of those lonely years after Good Woman, the dominating mood of All Now in its production was courage, and energy - to finally do something about all the things in the world crashing down on you. "There's a drama to it," says Jess of the punctuating drumbeats seesawing with the lyrics ("Don't set yourself on fire," they warn), adding: "It's about beating yourself up for mistakes or feeling like you haven't made the right decision, and thinking about the past too much."

But the most thrilling part of that song, and this album, is that the hardest pills to swallow, here, almost have a sweeter taste. Once you've survived the climb to the top, learned from the journey, you may as well enjoy the view. "When you sing about hesitation and fear, there's a lot of power in not making it sound fearful and being quite steadfast instead," says Camilla. "It feels like an act of taking control." With All Now, there's no letting go.

~~~~~~~~

Following the widespread global acclaim for the Justin Vernon produced 'If I Was' in 2015, The Staves returned in 2016 with the stellar 3-track Sleeping In A Car EP. After a relocation to Minneapolis in May, the band embarked on their first North American tour in almost three years, selling out venues in major markets across the continent. They spent their summer performing at festivals across the United States and Canada, with a trip back to the UK for a headline show at London's Royal Festival Hall as part of Guy Garvey's Meltdown. The Staves finished the year with a November tour of the Midwest, and look forward to heading back into the studio to work on new music.
It was in December 2022 that The Staves celebrated the 10th anniversary of their debut album Dead & Born & Grown - a strange and beautiful period in the lives of sisters and band members Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor, making their fourth album All Now with the same organic vulnerability as that first record: except now everything was different, and they kind of were too.

All Now emerges, bold and bright, from a period of quiet, which followed a period of chaos, for the band. When Good Woman was released in 2021, to positive reviews, it felt like "an echoing silence" to share such a cathartic album with a world shut down. So The Staves had to retreat, again, and actually wrestle with everything they had been through.

"There was a delayed reaction to trauma and these big changes out of your control," says Jess of the period that came after Good Woman, as the band - like the rest of us - were forced to sit with their thoughts, but also still processing the death of their mother and other seismic changes: Emily takes a backseat on this album (while still contributing vocals on a handful of tracks) to focus on motherhood, while Camilla reckoned with her own mental and physical health issues - chronic pain and a series of operations due to Endometriosis began to take an increasing toll.

"It all culminated in making me feel extremely alienated," says Camilla. "Suddenly your body is doing something completely out of your control - depression reared its ugly head again and it sparked an identity crisis. It was a turning point." So The Staves did what they know how to do best, and got back to writing. The idea was to go against most of what they'd been doing for the last few years by going back to basics and focusing almost solely on each other and their guitars as a starting point.

It began with Jess, navigating this new landscape by harnessing her creativity on her own at first in the studio in Hackney at the end of 2022, slowly luring Camilla back to the next chapter of The Staves, before reaching out to super-producer John Congleton (Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen), who the band had worked with on Good Woman, to help them figure out the next step in the studio. "After this feeling of slow motion for a couple of years, it suddenly accelerated wildly towards the finish line," the band say of the weeks that follow: packing up and heading to LA to meet Congleton and musicians Max Hart and Tamir Barzilay to bring to life what this next album really could be.

The result? An album as rich and honest as all the most profound music by The Staves scattered across albums for the last decade, calcified here into something special. There's the buoyant nostalgia on 'After School', a love letter to Emily from her little sisters "looking back on the simpler times" and reflecting on those teenage days shuffling into that one bedroom with the CD player to play the new Sheryl Crow album. "That late '90s period was just fucking fun," says Camilla. "We thought Emily was the coolest, so we thought we may as well go full throttle with a really joyful song."

That gung-ho confidence shines on the magnificent 'Great Wave', beginning with folklore on an enormous wave in Portugal, Nazare - a very literal thing - and spiralling out into something borderline spiritual to speak to the ebb and flow of the last few years. "The wave is your fear, this thing to overcome," says Jess. "That could be thrilling and brilliant, but also terrifying: do you jump into it? Or do you run away?" The answer, for The Staves, is to take control back with both hands - defy expectations not just of those who might happily dismiss the sisters for sweet harmonies and little else, but for the musicians themselves, rising from the ashes in wholly unpredictable ways.

That sense of self-rediscovery blooms fully on the album's title track, a distillation of the cacophony of our modern society, understanding the overwhelming nature of just trying to get through it all, but accepting it and not shying away. The song came quick and fast for Camilla and Jess: "These are things running through your head that you really need to say and get out." Musically it's majestic, a steady pulsating beast that grows until the tension is almost too much and suddenly, a release.

Much of the strength of All Now comes from the piercing vocal and harmonic clarity, the humble elements that have always made The Staves who they are, only with the years of experience and growth to take their writing to the next level. "You got the magic I think I missed it Homesick for a place that never existed," they sing on 'I Don't Say It, But I Feel It' a track that "shakes itself out of being too soppy", at once speaking to the grounded mode of writing (acoustic guitar and vocals) and exploring a driving force to take charge of these difficult emotions.

It comes to a head on 'Make A Decision', perhaps the manifesto of the next era of The Staves: change, but power in finally embracing the unknown. After the deep solitude and pain of those lonely years after Good Woman, the dominating mood of All Now in its production was courage, and energy - to finally do something about all the things in the world crashing down on you. "There's a drama to it," says Jess of the punctuating drumbeats seesawing with the lyrics ("Don't set yourself on fire," they warn), adding: "It's about beating yourself up for mistakes or feeling like you haven't made the right decision, and thinking about the past too much."

But the most thrilling part of that song, and this album, is that the hardest pills to swallow, here, almost have a sweeter taste. Once you've survived the climb to the top, learned from the journey, you may as well enjoy the view. "When you sing about hesitation and fear, there's a lot of power in not making it sound fearful and being quite steadfast instead," says Camilla. "It feels like an act of taking control." With All Now, there's no letting go.

~~~~~~~~

Following the widespread global acclaim for the Justin Vernon produced 'If I Was' in 2015, The Staves returned in 2016 with the stellar 3-track Sleeping In A Car EP. After a relocation to Minneapolis in May, the band embarked on their first North American tour in almost three years, selling out venues in major markets across the continent. They spent their summer performing at festivals across the United States and Canada, with a trip back to the UK for a headline show at London's Royal Festival Hall as part of Guy Garvey's Meltdown. The Staves finished the year with a November tour of the Midwest, and look forward to heading back into the studio to work on new music.
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  • Mon Apr 22 (8pm)
859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

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