The talent offered up by the Staveley-Taylor sisters, known as the Staves, was so remarkable and so exceptional, that it could easily have been at home on the best American stages; Grand Ole Opry, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The GRAMMY Awards show and the MTV Video Music Awards show as well, but was found on this night at Schubas Tavern in Chicago.
Emily, Camilla and Jessica Staveley-Taylor, siblings hailing from Watford, England, are currently supporting their debut release entitled, Dead & Born & Grown, on Atlantic Records, with a 25-date headlining tour of the US. Tuesday’s Chicago Schubas Tavern tour-stop found mother nature’s fury reigning down outside of the venue with thunder, lightning, and torrential downpour, but inside found a sold-out, standing-room-only, packed house, electrified and mesmerized by a Staves performance that seemed throughout to be other-worldly. Yes, other-worldly!
Anticipation was palpable leading up to the Staves taking the stage. Many in the audience were first-timers like Laura, from Chicago, who found the Staves by chance on an online music service. She wanted to show her support by attending and witnessing for herself what the sisters had to offer. Then, house lights down, Jessica, Camilla, followed by Emily, could be seen taking their places on stage. What happened next is really a testament to why a Staves performance is a must-see in person. For nearly seventy minutes, with a supreme command of all that was creative, Emily, Camilla and Jessica gave their new found fans a performance to remember.
Throughout their 13-song set (2-encores), the Staves covered much of their new album, Dead & Born & Grown and each took lead vocal duties. Emily shined on Pay Us No Mind, as did Camilla on Dead & Born & Grown, and Jessica on In The Long Run and Facing West. The sisters also traded verses in Icarus from their Mexico EP. Their signature vocal harmonies resonating always, delicately airy and lite. Jessica continuously changed guitars before each song, Camilla played ukulele, guitar, and tambourine and Emily picked up a mallet to strike a drum, played an organ and tambourine as well. All the while, the sisters kept adoring fans in stitches, with funny stories and hysterical quips. Emily brought the house down on many occasions but seemed to hit the funny bone when she half whispered, “we get some lads now” matter-of-factly and under-her-breath while introducing a drummer and bass player; both males. These lads added a fuller sound and joined in on songs Motherlode, Tongue Behind My Teeth and others.
One look at the captivated audience, you could begin to get an idea of what was happening; holding its collective breath, following every note, holding on to every note, savoring every note; looking forward to the next note. And, it continued until the very last note of the evening. The Staves’ musical efforts are endearing to their audience. Turning first-time listeners to adoring fans because of a true love of what they are doing; not having to force a note, as it flows always so effortlessly and naturally. Even Camilla, with her voice strained due to a cold or mild case of laryngitis, did not seem to miss a note; still remarkably beautiful.
The sisters are fast becoming recognized for their songwriting skills, vocal prowess, and intricate trademark harmonies. Reminiscent of the influential all female vocal groups of the early- to mid- twentieth century; the Andrews Sisters, the Lennon Sisters, and the McGuire Sisters, to recent groups like the Dixie Chicks. They are well beyond their years musically. And, have probably, unfairly been lumped into that new wave of folk, nu-folk, folk-rock artists currently from Great Britain; Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, The Bonfire Band UK, Martha Tilston, and The Treetop Flyers. The Staves are so much more. Emily, Camilla and Jessica are truly unique; and, truly without equal.
An incredibly fun time was had by all! The Staves are not to be missed when visiting a stage near you!
Pay Us No Mind
In The Long Run
Tongue Behind My Teeth
Dead & Born & Grown
Wisely & Slow
Opening Act: Musikanto