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Friday, 20 April 2012

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow (2012)

Time to get just a little excited! 'Barton Hollow' finally gets a UK release with a raft of extra tracks, after being out for a year in the USA. In February this year they won two Grammy's (in two different fields - Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance).

If you are wondering who on earth The Civil Wars are, then let me introduce them to you. John Paul White on guitar and vocals and Joy Williams on vocals and piano make up the band/duo. Both had been solo artists prior to their coming together in 2008 at a Songwriting Session in Nashville and they seemed to hit it off from the word go. For more info about the formation of The Civil Wars checkout their website.

The album 'Barton Hollow' was produced by Charlie Peacock who is a legendary producer/artist/author in his own right. Checkout the title track from the album peformed on Later with Jools Holland back in November 2011.

This is a duo that actually sound like they have been playing together for many years and so it's hard to believe it's only been three years! Their second ever live performance was recorded and is a free download from their official website. Look for 'Live From Eddie's Attic' here.

Two weeks ago they were even on BBC Breakfast here in the UK being interviewed.

I have to say how pleased I am about this project. I saw Joy Williams a number of years ago at AtlantaFest and have followed her solo career path with much interest and am so happy to see her getting some success in her life at long last.

I have to disagree with Andy Fyfe of Q Magazine who said in his review that the album is "deeply unengaging" and only gave it two stars. I'm more inclined to go with Mischa Pearlman of the BBC and her positive view of the album over at Amazon. She ends her review with this: "A timeless, anachronistic record, Barton Hollow could be from 30 years ago, or it could be from 30 years hence. What’s certain, though, is that you truly feel it in the here and now."

I find their folk/country sound (hard to actually pin them down) to be some of the most pleasant music I've heard this year. Beautiful harmonies, simple guitar work and tender songs make this such a beautiful work of art.

As I mentioned at the start this UK release comes with a number of extra tracks (6 to be precise) and whilst I've never been a fan of Michael Jackson their take on 'Billie Jean' is stripped down to an acoustic work of genius with lush harmonies to boot.

I'm adding this one to my list of potiental albums of the year!
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