What does it sound like when two great voices careen against each other?

The first time I heard them, I had just turned off the road known to long-time Birmingham residents as “Diaper Row.” I was on the Red Mountain Expressway driving north. We had then  a radio station that would actually play a song like ‘Poison and Wine’. Fifteen minutes later I had downloaded the EP of the same name, tweeted about it and got a thanks from Joy Williams.

I don’t know what kind of music you call Biblical. But I’ve been doing some reading in the OT and there is a lot of betrayal and beauty, murder and mystery, passion and paradox all the way through. The best music has at the very least echoes of this. Which is why I like Barton Hollow, their first full-length album. It’s Biblical in the same way Flannery O’Connor is Biblical.

And O’Connor is a good comparison.

There is a southern gothic edge to it. Beauty with darkened filigree. But not too much filigree. This album is dominated by two voices, a guitar and a piano. But the two voices define it. Joy Williams voice is hypnotic and the kind you could get addicted to. It’s the audible version of a thousand pools of light. John Paul’s voice is well…is it OK to say a man has a beautiful voice?

This album is worth far more than the $5 you can get it for on Amazon.

One last thing. ‘Poison and Wine’ – the first song I heard by them is the kind of song you wish would never end. So don’t feel guilty about hitting ‘repeat’ again and again. Everybody does it.

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