Sprawling greenery surrounds you as you tread through massive, unfamiliar woods. You spot a wild hare as it bounds across the forest floor and comes to a sudden halt just a few paces away. You take a couple steps towards it before realizing something: the hare is quickly decaying where it stands. You’re paralyzed, save for your eyes that rapidly glance around. The leaves are dying. The snow is falling. The snow is melting. The flowers are blooming . . .
Another solid contender for album of the year! If I Was is the newest full-length from sister trio The Staves, made up of Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Stavely. For those of you that eagerly await a new Bon Iver release, it may delight you to know that this record was produced entirely by cinematic folk mastermind Justin Vernon. His influence permeates through it all, but it’s the celestial Stavely harmonies that shine brightest.
Let’s discuss the instrumentation first. Fans of the diverse, theatrical production of Bon Iver’s self-titled record will be elated upon hearing this exquisite mixed-bag of songs. Opener “Blood I Bled” grows from a sparse folk introspection into a loud battle march, “No Me, No You, No More” is a heart-wrenching, harmonic monument in acapella, and “Black & White” goes full-fuzz blues rock; and that’s only scratching the surface.
Now, the vocals. The Stavely sisters are masters of crafting angelic, interweaving harmonies that trigger goosebumps on such a frequent basis that it’s shocking. Their potent lyrics will break even the hardest shells down with emotional agony, but the heavenly notes that carry those words lift the songs skyward. This is a true musical gem. If you’re seeking diverse, cinematic music with radiant harmonies, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)