Artist: The Staves
Title: If I Was
Str Date: 2015-03-23
The Staves have announced details of their new album, If I Was, to be released on 23rd March 2015 on Atlantic Records.
Recorded over five trips across the Atlantic to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and produced by Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), If I Was takes The Staves’ original blueprint of sublimely harmonised British indie-folk and gives it an injection of muscle and a much-heightened ambition.
Just one listen to the Autumn release of their Blood I Bled EP will tell you The Staves have changed since their 2012 debut album, with a scale and confidence that can only come after three relentless years on the road.
The aforementioned Blood I Bled opens The Staves’ second album, and was indeed the first track written, recorded, and released from the album, hinting at the world of possibilities Emily, Jessica and Camilla have gone on to explore.
The song lay dormant while they performed all over the world, including appearing alongside Mumford & Sons during their Glastonbury headlining slot in 2013 and several tours with American cult heroes Bon Iver. Having formed strong friendships with the latter band’s founder Justin Vernon and his assembled gaggle of players, the sisters were invited to his April Base studio in Wisconsin to work on whatever music they had in a relaxed, idyllic setting.
“There was no plan to make a record there, or even demo anything, it was initially just to hang out and play some music with Justin. There was no pressure at all, we didn’t even tell our label we were going.”
Pretty soon Blood I Bled, along with a handful of other song ideas had been resurrected, re-written and roughly recorded, with one trip to Wisconsin quickly leading to another, when things were made more official.
“We demoed about 10 songs and then asked ourselves ‘Aren’t we actually just making a record?'” says Emily, adding Vernon seemed equally unsure whether he was in fact producing The Staves’ second album or not.
“It was a bit like when you first start seeing someone and you have to define the relationship,” says Jessica. “You have to work out what you’re calling it and if you’re telling your friends about it.”
Fortunately for all, The Staves and Vernon did become a metaphorical couple, and they got to work more seriously. The resulting album, made during The Staves’ five eventual visits to Wisconsin, is as stunning as the snow-covered landscape it was recorded in; at once deeply personal to each sister, fuelled by heartbreak and individual turbulence, it’s also full of hope, redemption and positivity for an uncertain future.
The album was born, in some ways, out of intense frustration. While three years on the road is a privilege not to be sniffed at, it did mean the trio were unable to work on any new ideas they’d had in any detail.
“We hadn’t created anything in so long,” says Camilla. “We were really itching to have a break and to let out all this stuff that we hadn’t had chance to express. Fortunately we found a place with Justin’s studio where we were allowed to do whatever wanted. It was the most liberating experience, being able to record until 4 in the morning, or while drunk. Whatever worked ‘ there was no idea too silly. It was like a school trip with no parents.”
“It was magical,” adds Jessica. “The snow was neck-high outside, so we were sort of trapped inside. Cabin fever sets in, but it’s really conducive to working.’
“The amount of time we’ve spent away from home has affected all our relationships,” continues Emily. “And I don’t just mean boyfriends, but relationships with family and close friends and wider groups of mates, who you just have to get used to never seeing. It can be difficult. Writing about it all is necessary therapy in making sense of quite an unconventional life.”
1. Blood I Bled (4:06)
2. Steady (3:28)
3. No Me, No You, No More (2:46)
4. Let Me Down (4:05)
5. Black & White (2:39)
6. Damn It All (6:26)
7. The Shining (3:38)
8. Don’t You Call Me Anymore (2:52)
9. Horizons (2:49)
10. Teeth White (3:40)
11. Make It Holy (4:33)
12. Sadness Don’t Own Me (4:38)
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