Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

I love it when artists can challenge us.
Hopefully you have heard about The Civil Wars by now. The duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White have made a big splash in the last few weeks with their debut album, Barton Hollow, releasing on Feb. 1. I'd say appearing on The Tonight Show and having their album be #1 on iTunes for its first week as a pretty good start.

Their music is haunting and beautiful, stripped down to the basics: White's guitar, some occasional piano by Williams, the scattered accordian or percussion, and the intertwining harmonies of the two singers. In this day of auto-tuned, electronic noise being blared on iThingies and the random Super Bowl halftime show (brought to you by Lite-Brites), the organic, simple nature of these songs works into your soul. As opposed to bashing us over the head.

Their style would be best described as folk or Americana, although it resists easy labeling. They hail from Nashville and are getting airplay on CMT, but I wouldn't call them country (especially to those who know me - I'm not a country music fan). The point is that they make lovely music together. A majority of the songs are slow paced with a melancholy feel, longing for love. The title track is a foot-stomper with soaring vocal gymnastics, while "Poison and Wine," featured on an episode of Grey's Anatomy speaks in a raw, honest way about the dichotomies of love.

The two singers are refreshingly real in a day of pre-packaged artists fed to top 40 radio. I was intrigued when I found they were produced by Charlie Peacock, one of my favorite artists himself. They aren't the typical music I would listen to, but I'm all for quality, and their musicianship and chemistry makes Barton Hollow my first album purchase of 2011, and one of my favorites in a long time.

In my next point, I want to discuss how they are not only easy on the ears, but challenging to some of my convictions as well. Keep your eyes peeled for that, if you will.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Reminiscent of Allison Krauss or Loretta Lynn - bluegrass AKA "What country music used to be"