It's a pleasant surprise to hear new material from The Staves just fourteen months after their second full-length effort If I Was. That astonishing album informs the new three song EP Sleeping In A Car, but these songs certainly don't feel like cast off's from that project. In a little over ten minutes the Staveley-Taylor sisters push their sound forward ever so slightly giving a tantalising clue as to what their next album may shape up to be.
Most noticeably, although Justin Vernon is again involved here with some of the recording taking place at his April Base studio in Wisconsin, these songs sound far less indebted to his work with Bon Iver. Perhaps that's because some of the material was recorded at Urchin Studios in London whilst touring, and perhaps it's because The Staves sound has evolved again whilst on the road. You can tell Vernon was in the studio when you hear the reverb on the drums during 'Roses', but his contribution feels more subtle than during the If I Was sessions. Thankfully those signature three part harmonies, which have the power to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, are also present and correct during these new songs. The sisters have also continued to play with studio techniques to augment their vocal performances, the loop that's been created as the backbone of 'Outlaw' is mesmerising.
The band describes this EP as a reflection of the adventure and isolation of travelling, and in a nutshell that's the most accurate description. Despite the brief running time there's space for moments of triumphant choruses balanced with real contemplation. The title track, which curiously closes the EP, encompasses both gloriously with the piano driven melody perfectly conveying the feeling of perpetual motion that sleeping in a car brings.
It's perhaps a shame that such a wonderful collection of songs is only being granted a physical release at live shows, but whatever format you can get your hands on, Sleeping In A Car won't leave you disappointed.
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