Folk rock sister trio The Staves have become one of Philthy’s favorite musical acts. We were there last year for their first Philadelphia performance, a sold-out showcase at World Café Live. And earlier this year we caught up with eldest sister, Emily Staveley-Taylor, to preview the release of their debut LP, Dead & Born & Grown, which dropped this March on Atlantic Records. Well, the band would seem to have a fondness for Philthy, or Philly, as well. They opened their US tour (which runs through the end of June) here last Wednesday (May 15th) at Johnny Brenda’s, after a leisure day of cheesesteaks and climbing (or at least standing in-front-of) the Rocky steps.
Their appearance at Johnny Brenda’s was actually the first time that a US audience got to experience the group with a full-band, yet they maintained their intimately sparse sound. They have a knack for traditionally minimalistic folk that is lightly-coated with a popular sweetness, which inspired not only elegant cooing amongst the audience but, also, some existentially profound daydreaming. Highlights included the optimistically woeful “In The Long Run”; the bitter, yet empowered, “Tongue Behind My Teeth,” as beautiful of a moving-on road song as the century has seen; and “Winter Trees,” a playfully postmodern take on Americana. But equally as noteworthy were early, previously-recorded tracks “Gone Tomorrow,” “Pay Us No Mind,” and “Icarus,” which are already sounding like contemporary classics of the genre. There are many admirable and impressive aspects of the live experience of The Staves but, I think, none more than their ability to inspire a few hundred in a club setting to muse about their own, personal experiences of humanity… like a wise-beyond-their-years teen in their childhood bedroom… all in real-time…[youtube http://youtu.be/5Q-CePet15s]