The Staves – Dead & Born & Grown
Atlantic Records, Digital Download on Flipkart: Rs. 108
Released in November, Dead & Born & Grown is the debut album of the British acoustic folk trio The Staves. The album is full of pretty little melodies, shimmering harmonies, and often little more than the tinkle of a guitar for accompaniment.
The stripped-bare vocals of ‘Wisely and Slow’ that open the album are almost a wail, and the lyrics help: “Brother/you will never know all the things I did for you”. The simple and soulful mood that dominates the song is shaken up towards the end, when the sound is jagged with tinges of electronica.
This is a common pattern through Dead & Born & Grown, it turns out; songs start out one way, and carry many surprises within them. Take ‘Eagle Song’: if you were to tune in directly in the middle of this seven-minute song, at around 4.30, it might be dismissed as any pop song, but there’s a lot more happening through the song, with varying sections and moods. In most songs – especially the title track – the cheery trilling that dominates much of the track is suddenly offset by a haunting minor chord.
Lyrics for many songs carry their own little stories, as in ‘Wisely and Slow’; the impatience of ‘Gone Tomorrow’ has the trio singing, “Who says good things/Come to those who wait?”. They also immediately paint distinct, arresting images: take ‘Facing West’, which opens in a room with a “window facing west, towards the sea”. ‘Mexico’ makes you want to “see the colours of another sky”. ‘Pay Us No Mind’, with its languorous mood, three-beat time and singsong vocals, is a particular favourite.
For all the little distinctions between the songs, it’s not too easy to tell them apart if you have Dead & Born & Grown on in the background. And perhaps that’s just as well. This is the sort of album you consume endlessly, play over and over again, without necessarily picking one particular favourite track. All else aside, the trio’s voices alone are marvellous enough to make the album worth a purchase; their voices are three distinct threads that form a beautiful braid.