REVIEW: The Staves @ The Glee Club, April 29th

(l-r Emily, Camilla, Jessica Staveley Taylor)

Words by Ed King

Photos by Bianca Barrett /

“This is the band I’m going to review,” the title track from The Staves’ penultimate EP plays softly through the tannoy; barely audible over the revelation rain outside. “They’re a three piece vocal harmony group; very Folky, all sisters”

My friend looks up and uninterested. “Yeah, yeah, I think I know them. A friend of mine saw them in Moseley once; had a big crush on the one with dark hair.” I stay silent. Outside of the Folk Festival, The Staves have never played in Moseley. Plus they’ve all got either black or brown hair, and it’s too wet to argue.

The Staves; aka Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley Taylor – are on their first headline tour of the UK, playing The Glee Club on a dystopian Sunday.

A close harmony trio rooted in traditional Folk, they’ve already featured on albums with Tom Jones and Fionn Regan. Now with four EPs in circulation, the latest – ‘The Motherlode’, released in April 2012, The Staves are touring material from their debut album prior to its release later this year.

I swim out of Harborne into town, with about two minutes to spare before The Glee Club battens down its hatches. By the time I get to the venue I am half man half sponge.

After an excellent support from Christof, a Dutch Fionn Regan with an obsession for sausage sandwiches (, the Staveley Taylors took to the stage; complete with backline, scarves on the microphones and a picture of Frank Spencer.

Opening with ‘Motherlode’, the title track from their latest EP, the three sisters settle into a well rehearsed harmony. It’s practiced, near perfect and justly described as “sublime”.

The next song, ‘Icarus’, gives each Stave a lead as the backline disappears into a complicit slumber. ‘Gone tomorrow’ opens with another harmony, before allowing Camila spearhead the vocals on ‘Facing West’; starting strong but tailing off at the end.

Emily’s up next; bringing a deeper, sultry tone to ‘Pay Us No Mind – before Jessica regains her default position as lead vocalist and rhythm guitar on ‘Mexico’. A simply addictive song; one that’s been in my head since the bus journey from Harborne.

Stepping up the tempo for ‘Tongue Behind’; the Sleepy & Dopey backline (thank you James Brown) drown out Emily and Camilla, leaving Jessica both prominent and commanding. With a brief crane of the neck, we see a place on stage that’s just right for one.

‘Wise & Slow’ strips right back to vocals, with some reverb support about halfway through – just before the melody goes dangerously Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

‘Winter Trees’ then closes the set, in what feels like The Staves’ most confident ensemble.

I enjoyed The Staves more than expected; with their on stage sister quips bringing a welcomed personal depth. But more a sound than a song, I would question how much the trio can continue to offer. ‘Mexico’ is still the only memory I could confidently hum.

Although, the more I read the more I see them. The Staves’ public profile is being well managed (PR isn’t always a dirty word) and received; dragging a room full of people across a very wet city.

Special mention at this point to The Cankles, who despite turning up (in part) after the support slot; were in full entry price approval from the far reaches of Brum.

And whilst I’m pretty certain my friend’s friend had fallen for the singer of a different band, I too was most impressed by the one with dark(er) hair.

PREVIEW: Ladyhawke @ The Glee Club, May 6th

Ladyhawke, aka Phillipa ‘Pip’ Brown, made her first big noise on these shores in 2008; with the release of her eponymous debut album.

Named after the Princess Di lookalike shapeshifter, in Richard Donner’s 1985 film of the same name, Ladyhawke combines an 80’s sounding poptronica with guitar riffs and Indie Rock.

Influenced by ELO and compared to Cyndi Lauper (Miss Kitten and New Young Pony Club), Ladyhawke was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome; after a turbulent childhood fending off rare diseases. Citing her condition as one of the reasons she spent so much time ‘absorbed in music’, Ladyhawke is an accomplished songwriter and multi instrumentalist.

Nominated for ‘Best International Female Artist’ in the 2010 BRIT Awards; in another classic swing-miss from the awkwardly contrived ceremony, the New Zealand-born-London-based singer songwriter is perhaps best known for her singles; ‘My Delirium’ and ‘Paris is Burning’.

Currently touring her second album – ‘Anxiety’, available now for pre order and scheduled for released on May 28th, Ladyhawke comes to The Glee Club (B’ham) on May 6th; before a couple of pit stops in New Zealand and finishing with seven dates down under.

For more detail for this, and other gigs at The Glee Club, visit

For more on Ladyhawke, visit

Ed’s… Highlights, May ’12

Before it becomes mandatory to wear a neon wristband and argue with Group 4 to see your favourite bands, the merry, merry month of May has some tasty festival hors d’oeuvres.

Can’t believe I’m making festival references already, wasn’t it snowing last month? Meanwhile, somewhere indoors…

Newton Faulkner and Emily and the Woods share the O2 Academy stage (May 4th), followed by Quantic & Alice Russell in one room – We Are Augustines in t’other at the Hare & Hounds (May 6th). Hardly seems fair, TEAR DOWN THE WALLS.

Whilst back in town, like some blue rose stealing fairytale, Marina & the Diamonds play the HMV Institute (May 11th) before the Happy Mondays return to the O2 Academy – supported by Inspiral Carpets (May 12th).

Continuing the flashback, Ozric Tentacles come to the Hare & Hounds (May 13th) before Aha front man and Casio Kids benefactor, Morten Harket, plays the Symphony Hall (May 14th). Cue jokes about Blue Penguins and everything looking 2D… you’ll either get that or you won’t.

Staying at the Symphony Hall, ‘an overture of five uninterrupted rock and roll tunes announces Elvis Costello and the Imposters to the stage, after which members of the audience are invited to spin the gigantic vaudevillian contraption and select the next song’. It’s billed as the ‘Spectacular Spinning Songbook’ (May 15th), and I’ve honestly no idea.

Then the 1st big merry comes as Jimmy Cliff plays one of only two 2 English dates at the Birmingham Ballroom (May 20th). It might be a Glastonbury hangover, it might be a new album, but the King of Kings(ton – see what I did there) is coming to Dale End; in a laudable coup for the Ballroom.

The 2nd is Guns N’ Roses at the LG Arena (May 25th), which is either the best or worst idea in the world. Hard not to get excited about this one, but experience has taught me not to trust long blondes who scream from the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Also worth mentioning ; Ladyhawke (The Glee Club / May 6th), Estelle (HMV Institute / May 14th), Martyn Joseph (H&H / May 17th), Harvey Milk (H&H / May 22nd), Niki & the Dove (HMV Institute / May 22nd), Poppy & the Jezebels (H&H / May 23rd), Gemma Hayes (The Glee Club / May 27th), THePETEBOX (Birmingham Ballroom / May 29th), Peter Hook & the Light – performing ‘Unknown Pleasures’  (O2 Academy (May 30th), Dionne Warwick (Symphony Hall / May 31st) and Gary Numan (HMV Institute / May 31st).

And although premature and contrary to my intro, when did that stop me, look out for the Lunar Festival – Tanworth in Arden (Umberslade Estate / June 1st – 4th). Deservedly sneaking into the May listings, this new 500 capacity foray of Folk has; Fionn Regan, Scott Matthews, Michael Chapman, Rachel Sermanni, Goodnight Lennin and Hannah Peel , in ‘an intimate camping weekend of acoustic music set in the spiritual home of Nick Drake’.

All that’s missing is ‘back rubs from Hope Sandoval’, but you can’t have everything – for more visit

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PREVIEW: The Staves @ The Glee Club, April 29th

The Staves (l-r; Camilla, Emily & Jessica Staveley-Taylor)

The Staves are a vocal harmony Folk trio from Watford; or Emily, Jessica and Camila Staveley-Taylor if you’re friends, family or calling the register.

Embarking on their first headline tour, having previously supported Willy Mason and Josh Ritter, The Staves are playing 15 dates across the UK – coming to The Glee Club in Birmingham on 29th April.

Sisters and band members, The Staves have seemingly crept up through the modern day Folk scene; already releasing two EPs, playing the SXSW festival with Ben Drummond, and appearing on studio recordings with Fionn Regan and Tom Jones.

Promulgating the new wave/traditional approach, The Staves’ single guitar rhythms and lead vocals, adorned with near perfect choral harmonies, have brought obvious comparisons to (old and new) female Folk artists whose surnames begin with ‘M’.

But, even whilst admitting ‘I am a wisp of a woman, in a burst of wind I disappear like smoke’, The Staves balance a dichotomy of youth and tradition – or as their press release calls it; ‘a melding of still, bright English folk and sublime West Coast pop.’

A sound the press release goes on to claim, ‘performed live, is capable of plunging an audience into awed silence.’ A proud declaration, or a length of linguistic rope that’s long enough for three? The Birmingham Review will find out on April 29th.

Out on April 23rd, you can pre order The Staves’ 3rd EP, ‘The Motherlode’, at iTunes now; with their 2nd EP, ‘Mexico’, available for purchase.

You can also download their 1st EP, ‘Live at Cecil Sharp House’, free on their website

The Staves’ debut album is set for release in autumn ‘12.

The Staves play The Glee Club (B’ham) on Sun 29th April.

For more info on this and other gigs at The Glee Club, visit

PREVIEW: Karima Francis @ The Glee Club, April 26th

Karima Francis released her debut album, ‘The Author’, in 2009.

Signed to Kitchenware Records, the Newcastle upon Tyne based label – home of The Editors and Prefab Sprout, the Blackpool born signer songwriter was pegged as the ‘No 1 one to watch’ by The Observer Music Monthly in the same year.

Compared to Joan Armatrading, and citing Carole King as an influence, Francis reportedly made a powerful introduction at the Manchester Music In The City conference – ‘silencing the room’ with impressive vocals and laid bare content.

Produced by experienced studio duo, Bacon & Quarmby, ‘The Author’ received mixed reviews; balancing ‘the meatiness of voice and subject matter’ against ‘enervated pop-rock melodies and some watery lyrics.’ (Hermonie Hoby – The Guardian, Mar 15th ’09).

Although Chris Long surmised it as ‘a sublime, often astonishing debut’ for the BBC online music review, with her vocals widely recognised by peers and media.

Karima Francis reportedly took ‘some time out’ after the velvet glove reception of her debut, admitting personal problems that ‘took her away from her music’.

She then signed to Mercury imprint, Vertigo Records, in 2011 and has been working on her new album – ‘The Remedy’, with producer Flood; the industry stalwart behind PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, U2 and Glasvegas.

Open and candid about her three year hiatus, Francis was on the road with her new material in 2011, stating, “it was amazing, the amount of people that came – and we were playing a completely new set. We were silencing rooms, and I never thought I’d get that back.”

‘Wherever You Go’, the first single release from ‘The Remedy – Francis’ second album, is out on May 14th.

Karima Francis comes to The Glee Club on April 26th. Ed King will be there for the Birmingham Review.

For more on this, and other gigs at the venue, visit

For more on Karima Francis, visit