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The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars


Aug 14, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The Civil Wars’ sophomore album comes as the duoJohn Paul White and Joy Williamsremains on indefinite hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” It’s a shame too, because The Civil Wars is much better than the pair’s 2011 debut, Barton Hollow. Whereas the debut evidenced White and Williams’ exquisite knack for singing together, the set was somewhat heavy on ballads that sounded like they were made to soundtrack television dramas. The Civil Wars corrects this both in the song selection and in the way the compositions are delivered. “I Had Me a Girl” is a bluesy stomp, and “From This Valley” is straight old-time country, both with wonderful shared vocals from White and Williams. “Oh Henry” is jaunty minor-key Americana, and “Disarm” is a Smashing Pumpkins cover. The variety eases that which might become monotonous, as anyone who has listened to Barton Hollow knows that The Civil Wars makes its money on the slower stuff. More impressive is that the ballads are less heavy-handed and sappy than they seemed on Barton Hollow. The tones are darker, and lines like “don’t say that it’s over” are lent extra weight due to the duo’s friction and the questions about the band’s future. Most importantly, White and Williams can still sing the hell out of a tune. That chemistry will never die, despite the fact that the band very well may have. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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