Review: The Staves in Cyprus Avenue (Cork), Wednesday 25th April 2012

A month's worth of rain in a couple of days is what they were saying yesterday and the wretched wetting received on the way to Cyprus Avenue to see The Staves indicated the weather-folk's predictions would prove to be uncharacteristically accurate. Fortunately, the three Watford sisters packed their folkie travelling bags full of sunshine and light before departing on their three date Irish tour.

No strangers to the fair city of Cork having supported both Michael Kiwanuka (Cyprus Avenue) and James Vincent McMorrow (Opera House) in the previous 6 months or so, last night marked Emily, Jessica and Camilla's first visit as headliners and - judging by the healthy attendance and exuberant applause come the end of the night - it will not be the last.

My first encounter with The Staves' heavenly harmonies was across the water at last year's End of the Road so I was eager to hear the new dynamics on seeing that they had added a rhythm section - just bass and drums - to flesh out the live experience. Pleased to note for the second night in 4 days the presence of a respectful crowd (maybe seating in CA is the way to go for folk/country gigs in future), the next hour is filled with heart-warming acoustic ballads pulled from the various releases to date. From the gorgeously gentle 'Icarus' (off Mexico) and the Fleet Foxes-esque triple vocals of 'Gone Tomorrow' the staggeringly accurate vocal lines confirm, if proof was required, all three are most definitely siblings.

All three tracks from new EP The Motherlode, on the shelves as recently as Monday, display steadily evolving songwriting abilities with the multiple voices on 'Pay Us No Mind' and 'Wisely And Slow' (especially the outro on the latter) reminding of Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors. The aforementioned addition of a rhythm section is carried out with grace and intelligence, adding subtle flourishes and accentuations here and there and only when required, emphasizing their own impact adding subtly to the sound rather than changing dramatically.

Introduced as an "old one" despite the threesome still having to release an album, the tender finger-plucking guitar and hushed harmonies of 'Mexico' is certainly the stand-out on the night with an encore featuring an appearance from impressive support - and regular touring partner - Dutch songwriter and former Galway-resident Christof. It may be their first headliner in Cork but The Staves are winning over new fans with every trip across the Irish Sea despite having released only a handful of EPs. Interesting to see how many will be at the next gig for I certainly will.

Click here to read an interview with The Staves

'The Motherlode' by The Staves is now available to purchase via all good record stores or via iTunes
- For more info on The Staves see