The Civil Wars: The Civil Wars

Posted August 7, 2013 by in Folk



3.5/ 5


Producer: ,
Label: ,
Genre: Folk
Producer: Charlie Peacock, Rick Rubin
Label: Sensibility Music, Columbia
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 42:58
Release Date: 6 August 2013
Spin This: "The One That Got Away," "I Had Me a Girl," "Dust to Dust"


Nice mix of sensible storytelling, great sounds and folksy drama. Chemistry and harmonies are still their strongest suit.


Some tracks seem to feel incomplete in production; last half gets too relaxed. At times, the disc feels desperate

Fast forward to what might be the final curtain call, the Civil Wars bows out with their self-titled disc

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Fast forward to what might be the final curtain call, the Civil Wars bows out with their self-titled disc

With a stage name as the Civil Wars, one would have probably expected the band’s shelf life to be cursed from the beginning. But Grammy gold fell upon them and critics waved their magic wands around their exercises of acoustic folk, pushing them further and further into the spotlight. With as much drama as the hit TV show Nashville, John Paul White and Joy Williams may be bowing out on a high note. For whatever their reasons are, White and Williams are still claiming that they are on a hiatus, citing “internal discord” and creative differences. At this point, the two aren’t even on speaking terms. Thankfully they worked hard enough to put out a second disc – one that spills some of the juice on what’s been going on behind the scenes. The tug of war of love is stamped unto the album’s opener, “The One That Got Away,” where the two harmonize their drama to the fullest effect: “I miss the way you wanted me/When I was staying just out of your reach.” It’s a broody tune, but definitely the album’s winning card. The Rick Rubin co-produced “I Had Me a Girl” puts the pair in a dazzling environment hunted by psychedelic electric guitar and a charming “ooh-ooh” chorus that matches the oddity of the secular-meets-religious lyricism. Apparently the subject of love, which it could be interpreted as a good or bad thing, is so mysterious in adjective form that only “oohhhh-ooo” is used to describe it.” Is it good? Is it bad? No one seriously knows. The attitudes of the background says it’s devilish, while the Civil Wars lays aside any hint of being acrimonious to sound like they are like dogs in heat. Much of the content to follow drips with acoustic calmness,” including the rustic “Same Old Same Old” and “Eavesdrop.” Etta James’s “Tell Mama” is stripped down to its melodic bones – albeit strummed thickly by White’s guitar. To offset some of the regularity of their formula, “Dust to Dust” brings AC rhythms into the panorama, setting them up for a trip into Lady Antebellum romance. “Don’t take that sinner from me,” Williams – with her Stevie Nicks-esque charm – pleads in prayer on “Devil’s Backbone,” a 19th century mid-Western-styled ballad. Towards the end, the filler starts to bubble on “D’Arline,” and some of the production seems rushed, incomplete or coffee shop-ish. But the Civil Wars may have been in a hurry to get this album out. And it make sense to do so now, knowing that the album is probably just as good as their debut album, Barton Hallow. There’s an apparent desperation that proliferates the mood here. Along with that is a great cluster of tunes that unveil just how talented this duo is. 2009’s “Poison & Wine,” the band’s first intro to popularity, may be the best way of describing their musical chemistry, but let’s hope that these two finds some kind way to postpone the inevitable. Just for a little while longer.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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