The Civil Wars The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars The Civil Wars
8
t's unavoidable that the current separation of Joy Williams and John Paul White (the pair known as the Civil Wars since 2008) will dominate the storyline for their second full-length. It's unfortunate, really, since without any of that baggage, The Civil Wars stands as a powerful and haunting collection that exemplifies Nashville's current fixation with slickly updating traditional themes. Although this is territory Buddy and Julie Miller have been mining for some time, the passion that Williams exudes in every line she sings is the duo's main attraction. It's easy to understand why Taylor Swift connected with them so well on "Safe & Sound," their collaboration for The Hunger Games soundtrack: Williams embodies everything Swift could hope to become as a mature artist. Tracks like "Dust To Dust" and "Oh Henry" maintain a traditional Middle American sensibility while musically transcending the rawness that would normally relegate a group like the Civil Wars to the folk festival circuit. A shining example of this fine balance is the hushed cover of Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm," with White on lead vocals, which blends in seamlessly with the album's overall dark hues. If Williams and White don't work together again, then The Civil Wars can be regarded as a true swan song, an album that runs the gamut of emotions until its final note. (Sony)