Midweek Music: The Civil Wars

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.

One thought on “Midweek Music: The Civil Wars

  1. Megan March 24, 2011 / 9:56 pm

    I stumbled across this duo about a week ago and immediately downloaded all there stuff from Amazon. Can't stop listening! Girl with the Red Balloon grew to be a favorite. Nice Pick!

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