Just one listen to If I Was will tell you The Staves have changed since their debut album was released in 2012. Of course, the sisters haven't abandoned their beautiful, signature close harmonies, but they have bolstered them with a clutch of multi-layered, hugely ambitious songs, recorded with the scale and confidence that can only come after three years on the road. Blood I Bled opens The Staves' second album If I Was, and was indeed the first track written, recorded, and released from the album, hinting at the world of possibilities Emily, Jessica and Camilla have gone on to explore.
"It almost made it onto the first album," says Camilla, "but it just wasn't ready. It didn't sit with anything else and we didn't really know how to finish it off." The song lay dormant while they performed all over the world, including appearing alongside Mumford & Sons during their Glastonbury headlining slot in 2013 and several tours with American cult heroes Bon Iver.
Having formed strong friendships with the latter band's founder Justin Vernon and his assembled gaggle of players, the sisters were invited to his April Base studio in Wisconsin to work on whatever music they had in a relaxed, idyllic setting."There was no plan to make a record there, or even demo anything, it was initially just to hangout and play some music with Justin. There was no pressure at all, we didn't even tell our label we were going. Pretty soon Blood I Bled, along with a handful of other song ideas had been resurrected, rewritten and roughly recorded, with one trip to Wisconsin quickly leading to another, when things were made more official.
The resulting album, made during The Staves' five eventual visits to Wisconsin, is as stunning as the snow covered landscape it was recorded in; at once deeply personal to each sister, fuelled by heartbreak and individual turbulence, it's also full of hope, redemption and positivity for an uncertain future. "It was magical," adds Jessica. "The snow was neck-high outside, so we were sort of trappedinside. Cabin fever sets in, but it’s really conducive to working.”