Release Date: Feb 5, 2021
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Folk
The Staves‘ third album has been a long time coming, and with good reason. Since the release of 2015’s If I Was, the Staveley-Cooper sisters have ridden that proverbial emotional rollercoaster. Emily Staveley-Cooper gave birth to a daughter in 2019, but that’s been one of the few bright spots over the last few years. Camilla Staveley-Cooper went through a relationship break-up, and had to relocate back to England from Minneapolis, and most devastatingly of all, the sisters’ mother died suddenly in the summer of 2018.
Six years is a long time to leave between albums, but one listen to the title track and opener for the third full-length from The Staves reveals both all that can change with the passing of time and all that remains from the things that have made this trio of sisters such a potent and wonderful musical force over the last several years. Still in place are the ubiquitous beautiful harmonies, clever, sometimes sweet and sometimes biting lyrics and the deceptively powerful musical flourishes that make the band so special, but added to the mix is a dash of increased musical power, undoubtedly from the band but aided by clever production from John Congleton. And that's just the first song.
Aside from their mystical 2017 collaboration 'The Way Is Read' with yMusic, 'Good Woman' is the first proper Staves album since 2015's 'If I Was'; an LP littered with gorgeous harmonies and acoustic guitar which ultimately remained very loyal to the folk blueprint. 'Good Woman' sees the trio progressing their sound with an appetite for experimentation and plenty of experience to stew over. The sisters battled the loss of their mother and break-ups in the years since, but on the flip-side welcomed new life with Emily becoming a parent herself in 2019.
Setting aside 2017's The Way Is Read, an adventurous collaboration with chamber ensemble yMusic, Good Woman is the Staves' first self-penned album in six years. Among its heavy inspirations were the death of the trio's mother, dissolved relationships, and the birth of eldest sister Emily's first child, all contributing to the idea of what it means to be a "good woman." John Congleton (The Decemberists, Angel Olsen) produced the album, which proves to be a poignant, philosophical set. The opening title track's soothing, soft rock sound accompanies enumerated qualities, like being able to stiffen resolve, being kind, carrying the load of others, and forgiving.
It was quite a year. Between the death of their grandmother and mother, a bad breakup, a pregnancy, and an unprecedented reckoning with their identity as a band, the Staves (composed of sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor) spent 2018 in mourning, in celebration, and -- more than anything else -- in solidarity. Not much afterwards, the sisters found themselves committing to record another album, reckoning with still-open wounds and ripe insecurities while crafting their first full-length in several years.