CD Review: The Civil Wars, “Barton Hollow”

Written by CD Reviews, Music

The Civil Wars are two powerful voices with a handful of good songs. What more could you want? Ken Shane reviews their new album.

The Civil Wars -  Barton HollowJust when you were thinking that perhaps romance is dead, along come the Civil Wars to restore your faith in love. The duo consists of John Paul White, originally from Florence, AL, and Joy Williams, originally from Santa Cruz, CA. They are now based in East Nashville. Their digital-only debut was recorded live at Eddie’s Attic, and has been downloaded 90,000 times.

For their new album, Barton Hollow (Sensibility Music), White and Williams have combined their powerful voices in service to a set of beautifully melodic Americana songs. Producer Charlie Peacock has done a nice job of setting the songs in an acoustic universe made up of guitars, banjos, and violins. The overall effect provides substantial drama, whether the subject is undying love as in the stunning “Poison & Wine,” or something darker as expressed by the haunting Appalachian strains of the title track.

Despite the fact that most of the rough edges have been smoothed away, the appeal of these two voices singing these songs remains strong. I hope that the Civil Wars resist any temptation to move further into the commercial mainstream, because that temptation will surely be there. For now, they have provided one of the year’s more pleasant listening experiences.

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