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The Civil Wars Barton Hollow

The Civil Wars

Barton Hollow

Sony

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The Civil Wars

Barton Hollow

While the Grammys is hardly the infallible barometer of quality music it may have once been, the good news story emanating from it earlier this year was Nashville-based duo The Civil Wars. They won Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album and the buzz emanating from that has been felt around the world, so much so that, 14 months after its Stateside release, their debut, Barton Hollow, gets time on Australian record store shelves.

On the surface they seem a quaint country duo. Both Joy Williams and John Paul White contribute to the vocal equally and there’s a lot of space in and around their achingly gorgeous melodies and harmonies – and it’s these vocals that have and will continue to sell The Civil Wars to a massive audience. A huge number of musicians contribute, but it never sounds as if there are more than three or four people in the room, no matter how lush the arrangement. It’s testament to producer Charlie Peacock; his deft touch allows each instrument to have its place without clouding the incredibly strong vocal interplay of Williams and White.

The title track is almost cliché in its execution, all big harmonies and big, punchy guitars, but the way in which these two go about it is perfect, it’ll stir you up good and proper. But Poison & Wine is the duo’s crowning achievement, a heavily, tragically emotional slice of adult contemporary pop just waiting for a hundred more film and TV syncs. If Gillian Welch and David Rawlings set out to become stars, they might sound a little like this. It’s easy to like and hard to see this duo not attaining huge success worldwide very soon.

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