Taking a cue from youthful folk revivalists like Laura Marling, Mountain Man, and the Pierces, Watford, England's the Staves blend the wistful cadences of classic British folk with breezy, Laurel Canyon-era Americana. The trio was formed in 2010 around the talents of sisters Emily (vocals), Jessica (vocals/guitar), and Camilla Staveley-Taylor (vocals/ukulele), who first learned to harmonize by singing along with their parents' record collection, dominated by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Emily was only 14 years old when the siblings made their live debut at a neighborhood pub's open-mike night, but they were well received and began appearing on a regular basis. They released their debut EP, Facing West, in 2010, and the same year they performed as backing vocalists on Tom Jones' 2010 gospel collection Praise & Blame.
The year 2011 produced a pair of EPs, Live at Cecil Sharp House and Mexico, which brought them to the attention of the major labels. The siblings signed with Atlantic Records, and capitalizing on the buzz created by their well-received debuts, they spent the beginning of 2012 supporting acts the Civil Wars and Bon Iver in North America. Arriving later that year, their first full-length outing, Dead & Born & Grown, was produced by Glyn and Ethan Johns. The fall of 2014 saw the release of another EP, Blood I Bled. The title track was a preview of the album If I Was, which was produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and released in February 2015. It landed them in the Top 20 of the Billboard Americana/Folk and Heatseekers Albums charts, and resulted in a tour with Florence and the Machine and an appearance at Glastonbury. The EP Sleeping in a Car followed in 2016, and a year later, Nonesuch issued The Way Is Read, a collaboration with chamber group yMusic that featured both Staves' originals and reworked yMusic compositions. ~ James Christopher Monger