Since interviewing The Staves last month (read article here), they had me hook line and sinker. Here we have three beautiful sisters, with even more beautiful voices and what’s more they’ve got a sense of humour, broad Hertfordshire accents and a love of whisky. Women after my own heart indeed.
This was the second female folk gig of the weekend at The Louisiana and while Laura Gibson’s efforts last night were pretty impressive (read review here), The Staves are what I’ll take with me from this weekend. Playing to an equally packed crowd, The Staves snake their way onto the tiny stage and sail straight into a cache of pitch-perfect folk songs, including ‘Wisely And Slow, ‘Mexico’ and ‘Icarus’. While they’re yet to release an album, they have plenty of EPs to draw material from.
It would be all too easy to compare them with their folk peers, a more classic sounding Laura Marling or a more contemporary-sounding incarnation of The Unthanks, but this trio is in a class of its own. With a nod towards KD Lang and harnessing the majestic tones of Joan Baez and Melanie, each sister carves ther own sound – but it is Jessica Staveley-Taylor who takes to the mic the most and it’s easy to see why, with her compelling, slightly huskier sound and a definite Mila Kunis look about her, she is pretty mesmerising.
The simple strings and impeccable three-way harmonies have the power to reduce you to tears, and none more so than during their acapella arrangement of ‘Pay Us No Mind’ from their latest EP, The Motherlode. Even when they lose their swing and burst into synchronised giggles, they manage to pick it up and absolutely nail it. They had planned to end on this song, but were worried it may go wrong so play another number before leaving the stage.
It isn’t long before they return (well, there’s not really anywhere they can go in the Louis), with one solo song. And it’s not even one of theirs. But By George is it the best possible way to end the show – a heartwrenching, and powerful rendition of Sufjan Steven’s ‘Chicago’ – which somehow manages to surpass the previously perfect-seeming original. A truly awesome end to an enchanting gig.