By Jason Samuel
Barton Hollow is the full-length debut release from the independent band, The Civil Wars. Produced by Nashville standard-bearer, Charlie Peacock, the band has created some early buzz. An appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and a featured song on “Grey’s Anatomy,” has lead to more than 500,000 views on YouTube and a number one slot on iTunes singer/songwriter chart – all before the albums official release this week.
Upon first listen to The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow don’t be surprised to find yourself drawn back to the Music City collaboration of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand. There are enough similarities in the two efforts to make that connection, but The Civil Wars have carved their own notch on the Nashville scene.
The Civil Wars are an acoustic folk-rock duo consisting of Californian, Joy Williams and John Paul White from Alabama who have come together in Tennessee to make music. It’s curious to consider a name like The Civil Wars, with the images it conjures in one’s mind, when on the contrary; Williams and White blend their talents so seamlessly. While voice and instrument act as one, there is no mistake, their voices are in command of each song, the instruments only compliment and shape each effort.
When listening to this album you get the feeling of two people sitting down and playing what ever comes to mind through a collective heart. Hauntingly powerful, Barton Hollow skillfully dances through genres of folk, country, Americana, and roots music. While the tracks may go in different directions it’s obvious that their united voice guides each song to its destination.
A few key tracks from the record show the duo’s diversity. “20 Years” offers ghostly vocals and daunting guitar work that sets the tone of the album. The title track, “Barton Hollow” is the centerpiece: powerful and bluesy. With “Poison & Wine” The Civil Wars may have crafted Americana’s answer to Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and the new anthem for anyone in a destructive, addictive, codependent relationship.
Barton Hollow is a solid Americana record. The pairing of Williams and White is perfect. There is a song for everyone. Go find yours.