Release Date: Feb 1, 2011
Record label: Tone Tree Music
Genre(s): Folk, Americana
Already a huge word-of-mouth success in the US – they recently won two Grammys and Adele rates them the best live act she's ever seen – Nashville-based duo Joy Williams and John Paul White have crafted a bewitching debut album of sparse, spectral Americana. Pitching up somewhere between the brooding beauty of Mazzy Star and the understatement of Low, the likes of "20 Years" and "Poison & Wine" benefit immeasurably from the pair's intertwining vocals. Elsewhere, a cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", allowed to breathe by its minimalist arrangement, is a revelation, and the mood of reverie is only broken by the raucous, insistent title track.
Jack White has had nothing to do with the unstoppable rise – Grammy awards and all – of the Civil Wars, but his methodology is written all over this attractive debut, released in the US a year ago. Joy Williams and John Paul White appear in virtually all photos wearing what amounts to a uniform (she in black dress, he in black suit and tie), and spruce up the wellsprings of their music (old-time American country and folk) with modern trappings, giving it a feel at once ageless and modern. It's a deliciously understated album, acoustic and largely percussionless.
Joy Williams and John Paul White aren’t a couple, but they certainly sound like they’re in love, singing together with the sort of familiarity that only seems to exist between couples and siblings. On Barton Hollow, their studio debut as the Civil Wars, the two trace each other’s melodies with close harmonies that never fail to lose their romance, even on breakup tunes like “Falling. ” It’s an organic, folk-pop sound not unlike the one made by the Swell Season, another boy/girl duo with a talent for making heartbreaking Americana.
In one of The Civil Wars’ promo photos, the two members, Joy Williams and John Paul White, are standing listlessly in a dusty, Victorian-era library, dressed in classical clothes and sporting aloof, vaguely morose expressions. As far as sooty indie-folk goes, it’s about as pervasive of a shot as a rapper squatting next two his rims. But it’s a good look on them.
The Civil Wars seems like the moniker for a band exploring overt, loud disagreement. But the brand of longing, melodic chamber-pop and folk from the duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams puts the emphasis on “civil”—“courteous or obliging; polite.” Barton Hollow, the name of a nonexistent place, is largely polite. It approaches relationship and life dissatisfactions with a subdued presence reminiscent of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s duets.
THE CIVIL WARS play the Phoenix Tuesday (November 1). See listing. Rating: NNN If you watch Grey's Anatomy, you may have heard the Civil Wars' dramatic Poison & Wine in its entirety. It's a strong duet capturing the conflict often inherent in a long relationship.. After meeting at a writing ….
Joy Williams and John Paul White may not be related by blood or by marriage, but the duo that calls themselves The Civil Wars sing together like they have been doing it their entire lives. Often relying only on two voices and an acoustic guitar, The Civil Wars take the best parts of singer/songwriter folk, Americana, and country music and meld them into something that is a bit of each but more than the sum of the parts. .
American singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White, aka The Civil Wars, have an unenviable reputation in the British media. The pair are heavily feted and fancied prospect, despite the fact that their music has not yet been widely circulated on our fair isle. A combination of gushing praise from Adele, Grammy wins, and a DIY album campaign that has sold 300,000 across the pond has lifted their status beyond what would normally be expected of a band whose songs you could not, until now, legally own.
A timeless, anachronistic debut record from the double-Grammy-winners. Mischa Pearlman 2012 In February 2012, The Civil Wars – a duo comprising Joy Williams and John Paul White – won two Grammy Awards: Best Folk Album for their debut album, Barton Hollow, and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for its title track. It’s easy to hear why. Originally released in the States last year, Barton Hollow’s love-torn, life-worn songs have finally dragged their weary, tired bones across the Atlantic just in time to soundtrack the onset of spring – or, rather, the end of winter.
Proof that Grey's Anatomy still retains the relevance to launch musical careers, the Civil Wars display some moments of real promise, though not enough to warrant the crush of attention paid their debut, Barton Hollow. Melding the California trill of Joy Williams with the Alabama tremble of John Paul White, the duo comes off as a folk version of the Swell Season, and while their voices make a fine natural pairing, they still have a ways to go to grow into each other. They're at their best when their roots show, as with the bluesy title track and the fiddle and steel of "Forget Me Not.