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If I Was

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 ratings

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Audio CD, March 31, 2015
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Editorial Reviews

Nonesuch Records releases The Staves' Justin Vernon–produced label debut, If I Was, in the United States on March 31, 2015, with vinyl to follow April 21. The Staves, originally from Watford, England, are three sisters: Emily (vocals), Jessica (vocals, guitar), and Camilla (vocals, ukulele) Staveley-Taylor. The album was recorded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at Vernon's April Base Studios—a former veterinary clinic where he also recorded his 2012 self-titled Bon Iver album.

The Staves released their first full-length album—2012's Glyn and Ethan Johns-produced Dead & Born & Grown—to critical acclaim. The Sunday Times called it "a debut of stellar beauty and hidden depths," while the Telegraph, in its four-star review, noted that the "graceful melodies reveal a supple strength and modernity." The trio has since spent much of the past three years touring the world, including opening spots with the Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons, and Bon Iver.

It was during the Bon Iver dates that the sisters formed a bond with Vernon and his band and were invited to visit April Base's relaxed, idyllic setting. "There was no plan to make a record there, or even demo anything; it was initially just to hang out and play some music with Justin," notes Jessica. "There was no pressure at all, we didn't even tell our label we were going." But by the end of the sisters' first visit to Wisconsin, it was evident that something significant was happening.

"We made demos of about 10 songs and then asked ourselves, 'Aren't we actually just making a record?'" says Emily, adding that Vernon seemed equally unsure whether he was in fact producing The Staves' second album or not. "We hadn't created anything new in so long," adds Camilla. "We were really itching to take a break and to let out all this stuff that we hadn't had a chance to express. Fortunately we found a place to do just that in Justin's studio. It was the most liberating experience."

Vernon recalls that the Staves “immediately were able to make their wings wide in the space. Their musical and vocal and songwriting abilities were very poised for something like this. It’s the way a record about deep things needs to happen: over a period of time, in a singular place, with enough time to reflect on themselves and express. I’ve made a lot of records now in my life and I have to say, making this one with them altered and changed me. Watching them go through that process and being more of a cultivator or sounding board gave me a unique perspective on a band crystallizing to true form.”

In their new songs, The Staves examine their seemingly endless touring by imagining what they have left behind rather than writing about endless highways, hotel rooms, and what they see in front of them. "The amount of time we've spent away from home has affected all our relationships," states Emily. "And I don't just mean boyfriends, but relationships with family and close friends and wider groups of mates, who you just have to get used to never seeing. It can be difficult. Writing about it all is necessary therapy in making sense of quite an unconventional life."


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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
33 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on September 20, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on December 26, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on July 24, 2015
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Top international reviews

JB
5.0 out of 5 stars ... 6Music live event in October and immediately fell in love with their harmonies and beautiful lyrics
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 7, 2015
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Todd Hooker
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute stunning album.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 2, 2017
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A Sandham
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 7, 2015
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neil tomlin
4.0 out of 5 stars ... heard these sisters on the Florence tour and really liked them - very atmospheric first album which I would ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2015
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Louisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 22, 2016
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T. DAY
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Happy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 7, 2015
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sputnik.sweatheart
1.0 out of 5 stars Achtung mangelhaftes Vinyl!
Reviewed in Germany on April 8, 2015
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