The Civil Wars
The Civil Wars
Sensibility Recordings

When I first heard the Civil Wars debut album, Barton Hollow, I was instantly hooked. Their perfect sound of harmony and melody captured my imagination and interest. When I heard about their sophomore album, Civil Wars, I eagerly anticipated its release. Now that the album is out, I am certainly not disappointed.

The album opens with the tune The One that Got Away – a beautiful tune showcasing Joy’s beautiful vocals. Each track is laced with beautiful harmony and melody, yet at the same time provides ample opportunity for both Joy and John Paul to each showcase their own vocal strengths. What sets the Civil Wars album apart from their debut is that there is more of each singing to each other than with the first album, which mainly had harmonizing tunes (think Poison & Wine and the title track Barton Hollow).

Musically, this album is stunning. It infuses rock, folk, country and gospel to create an incredible blend of breathtaking harmonic tunes. This album also includes two covers – Tell Mama by Etta James and Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins. Both are equally stunning and haunting. Standout tunes are The One that Got Away, Dust to Dust, Eavesdrop and the French-sung tune Sacred Heart.

The one thing about this album that intrigued me is that it tells a story when you listen straight through. Between their debut album and the release of this one, there was great discord between the pair. You can even hear that in the album and at times, it almost seems as if the pair recorded their parts separately. To not put too fine of a point on it, Joy had said if the fans wanted to know the full story (of why the pair “broke up”), to listen to the album. One can only surmise that something pretty deep must have occurred for this extremely talented pair of singers to throw a very promising career away.

With that said, the album is worth getting. The acoustic sounds, the guitar strumming, the vocal beauty – it all equates to an album that will certainly make huge waves in the music industry. I hope the duo comes back from their creative and personal differences with another album in the future. –Jennifer Sobek

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