Much has happened for Joy Williams and John Paul White -- the singer/songwriter duo known as The Civil Wars -- in the year that has followed our first glimpse of the magical chemistry these two voices can achieve. We caught them at a small club in Nashville where they kept a full house rapt in pin-drop awe with a sublimely intimate performance. Williams and White individually are no strangers to the local Nashville music backdrop -- she as a successful solo performer, he primarily an in-demand songwriter. After a chance meeting at a writing workshop and some early song drafts it became clear that there was something exceptional going on -- what Williams calls "this strange magnetic connection." Regional touring, the release of a debut studio EP, Grey's Anatomy placement for the song "Poison & Wine", a Taylor Swift "tweet-out" and contagious internet buzz has now yielded Barton Hollow, The Civil Wars' elegant and consummate debut long player due February 1.
Produced by Grammy-winner Charlie Peacock, Barton Hollow confirms our earlier take: "At times as soft as whisper and as subtle as a knowing glance, The Civil Wars craft ethereal, tenderly exquisite songs that are the aural equivalent of finely spun gossamer." With the notable exception of the barn burning title track, Barton Hollow is a place of simple elegance, where rural folk melodies breathe with Williams' and White's pitch perfect and enchanting harmonies. While the roots may be country, the decidedly non-twangy orchestrated folk/pop of "C'est La Mort", "Falling" and a headturning ballad rework of The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" are all about tenderly impassioned, sophisticated male/female vocal interplay. The defining masterpiece remains "Poison & Wine", a sweeping ballad of dramatic intensity that quietly grabs you, pulls you close and doesn't let go until the the final notes echo faintly in the distance. Videos and free holiday download after the jump.
The Civil Wars - "Poison and Wine" (from the album Barton Hollow)
The Civil Wars - "Barton Hollow" (from the album Barton Hollow)
Banner Picture Credit: William Kates