“The Queens of Hertfordshire, England,” now that’s a bold move to use royalty to describe a band that consists of three sisters from Hertfordshire, England. But once you give The Staves a listen, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. They are Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Stavely-Taylor (The Staves), and what they do is use their voices to create a harmony that will sooth your ears for hours. If I had to compare them to another group, I’d say they are their own version of Crosby, Stills, & Nash.
Their first album was in 2012, titled “Dead & Born & Grown.” What I love about this album is not just the music and its artwork, but the fact that it was produced by the legendary Glyn Johns and his son Ethan Johns. Glyn has had a well known career producing music for The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eagles, Steve Miller Band, Eric Clapton, and many others. Emily was quoted on telegraph.co.uk saying “Glyn would be literally sat on a throne in the studio with a gold disc behind him for producing the bestselling record of the 20th century, The Best of the Eagles so it was hard to relax.”
My Personal favorite from this album is “In The Long Run.” It’s one of those songs where although there is a story behind the lyrics, you can easily interpret them in your own way rather than how they are supposed to be interpreted. That’s mainly in part to the line “But I know, I’ll see you again in the long run, and I know I’ll meet you again in the long run.” That can be interpreted in many ways. The pleasant sound of the acoustic guitar also adds to the overall quality of the song. Speaking of pleasant sound from instruments, the ukulele is a highlight when describing the track “Facing West.”
Then there’s “Eagle Song,” and one highlight in this song is the increasing volume in their voices, that leads into the ending.
There’s also a sort of hidden bonus track at the end of “Eagle Song.” It has no name to it, and although it’s its own peace, it is considered part of the song. The song itself ends at 4 minutes and 50 seconds, but with the hidden bonus track, the song is listed as 7 minutes and 3 seconds. After the song, if you continue to listen, there is silence for about 30 seconds until the bonus track starts.
“Well the music I play ain’t your kind, but I love you, so you know I don’t mind. Well I’ve seen you pretty bad, I’ve seen you down, well I’ll hold your hand and you’ll, hold your ground.” – lyrics from the “Eagle Song” bonus track
Other stand out tracks from this album are “Mexico,” “Wisely & Slow,” “Winter Trees,” and the album title track “Dead & Born & Grown.”
Their second studio album, “If I Was” was released in 2015. For this one, the sisters made it to The States to record the album in Wisconsin. The producer for “If I Was,” is Justin Vernon, the frontman of indie folk band, Bon Iver. Along with the artwork showing them in snow covered woods, You’ll notice that this album has an emotional take to its lyrics. You can almost call it a concept album on raw emotion. The lyric’s raw emotions comes off subtle with the sister’s harmonizing voices.
There are two songs that stand out to me in this album, and they are “Steady,” and “Horizons.” Then there is a song found on the deluxe version of the album, and is a Bruce Springsteen cover, “I’m on Fire.” In terms of the raw emotion, “I’m on Fire” catches my attention the easiest.
The instrumentals for “Steady,” and “Horizons” are well, ‘steady,‘ and fit very well with the pace of their singing. There’s also “The Shining” which makes a reference to the movie of the same name. Other stand outs from this album are “Make It Holy” (feat. Justin Vernon), “Blood I Bled,” “Sadness Don’t Own Me,” and “Teeth White.”
“Sit and watch The Shining, with just the kitchen light on.” – lyrics from “The Shining”
When it comes to songs they have covered, there’s “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen (as mentioned earlier) and “Silver Dagger” by Joan Baez. Don’t get me wrong, Springsteen’s version of “I’m on Fire” is great, but when you hear The Staves singing it with their well oiled harmony, it becomes a jaw-dropper within seconds!
The Staves performing “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. (From left: Camilla, Jessica, Emily)
Being a traditional song, “Silver Dagger” by Joan Baez has had a long history of being adapted in many different ways by many artists. Some being Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Eagles, and The Byrds. For the Eagles, during performances in the early 70s, they would sing an a cappella version of only the third verse, and jump into their country rock classic “Take It Easy.” For The Staves, you can find them singing “Silver Dagger” during live performances, such as their “Live at the Cecil Sharp House” EP.
Emily, Jessica, and Camilla grew up listening to a lot of American style music, with some artists being Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, James Taylor, and Eagles. When they were younger, their parents always had friends over to sing music. One song they enjoy listening to their parents sing is “Helplessly Hoping” by CSN, and you could most likely find the Stave sisters singing it themselves. outlineonline.co.uk has some of the songs the sisters enjoy singing and playing guitar to. The artists of these songs include, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and the power trio of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt.
As mentioned on diymag.com, they even wish they had been the ones who wrote the Don McLean song “Vincent.”
Aside from the American style music, the article cited earlier on telegraph.co.uk, has Camilla mentioning in a quote that they grew up listening to Queen, ABBA, and The Beatles as well.
A piece from vogue.com about “Band of the Week,” mentions how their first gig away from the dinner table was at a local pub, and they had to lie about Camilla’s age because she was only 14. At this gig, they sang all covers of their favorite songs.
Whether it’s Emily, Jessica, or Camilla, the talents of these three sisters can put a smile on your face. So watch out Queen, there’s another harmonizing band from England, and they’re called The Staves.