The Staves - Good Woman (Warner)

"THE HUMAN voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, the most moving...even the greatest virtuoso will never be able to give you even a fraction of the emotion a beautiful voice can...That is our share of the divine.”

So wrote French novelist Anna Gavalda in Hunting and Gathering, and indeed, when voices blend in harmony, it can be something sublime - music and human communication at its purest and most direct.

It is a quality English trio The Staves - sisters Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor - possess when their voices join together in song. There is possibly nothing they could sing that would not warm and please the ear.

Third album, Good Woman, showcases how they are comfortable in various styles - folk/singer-songwriter, AOR, indie-rock, roots - without losing a cohesive, focussed sound. While generally, the whole works well - bar 'Careful Kid, with its electronic tones producing a sound jarring on the ear, and distracting from the vocals - the intimate songs, those with the most stripped down instrumentation, last longest in the memory.

'Nothing's Gonna Happen' is just fingerpicked acoustic guitar, over which the sisters harmonise exquisitely - a song worthy of McCartney on The White Album, and which also contains a brief doffing of the cap to Steely Dan's 'Any Major Dude'. The sentiments of 'Next Year, Next time', will resonate strongly with many.

The crowning moment though is closing track, 'Waiting On Me To Change' where solo and harmony vocals weave across a series of beautiful piano motifs, which mix jazz, ambient, and indie elements, and together voices and instrument create a combined effect that is powerful, simple, haunting, and uplifting.


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