Live Review: The Staves – Rough Trade NYC Brooklyn

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Camilla, Jessica and Emily Staveley-Taylor used to be open-mic regulars at The Horns, their local pub in Watford. One night their friend shortened their name on the sign-up list to The Staves and that band title stuck with them through the success they’ve achieved to this day. Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon produced their latest release If I Was at his home studio in Fall Creek, Wisconsin and recently the sister trio played a magnificent show at Rough Trade NYC just one block away from the east river shore in Williamsburg.

“It’s nice to be drinking Brooklyn Lager in Brooklyn,” Emily said before Camilla’s ukulele pierced into Blood I Bled. The Staves music is very unpredictable, especially if you’ve never listened to them before. When Camilla’s beautiful, angelic voice sings over the light strum of her ukulele you may not feel a strong energy beaming from the stage. However, when the supporting instruments and drums blasted off in the middle of the song the crowd surged with excitement.

The next two songs, Steady and Open, provided strong examples of the full band captivating sound. Their debut album Dead & Born & Grown was predominately acoustic so there was a major shift in the production and performance of the new songs in and out of the studio.

While The Staves are very skilled on the instruments they play, the most alluring element about the trio is their harmonious perfection. This was brilliantly demonstrated on No Me, No You, No More into Let Me Down. For the first two minutes of this Jessica-lead segue the girls poured their hearts out in a beautiful, flawless a capella harmony. As more instruments surfaced for the transition into the second half of the segue the girls united in towering harmonies and each respective melody descended in perfect alignment.

Camilla sang lead on the beautiful, intimate Don’t You Call Me Anymore as her sisters provided soaring sharp backup harmonies. For the set closer the girls performed a powerful, riveting version of Make It Holy, the most attractive song on their latest release. We finally heard some songs from Dead & Born & Grown as they performed a stunning rendition of Wisely & Slow, a set staple for any die hard Staves fan and especially a new fan who isn’t aware of their flooring, mesmerizing vocal strength. The final song of the night was the electric, upbeat Winter Trees another fan favorite from their debut album. The voices of Camilla, Jessica and Emily are medicine to the ears, and hearing them live is a remedy that all music lovers must indulge in.

Scott J. Herman