Fans of acoustic music, listen up: it’s with some hesitance that I bring to you potentially your new favourite band, if not then they’ll be pretty damn close. Comprised of John Paul White and Joy Williams, The Civil Wars were set to take the world by storm. Their previous full-length release, ‘Barton Hollow’, hit number one in the iTunes chart and allowed them to tour the world. Their reputation is only improved when you discover their free-to-download live recording, entitled ‘Live At Eddies Attic’, and let me reassure you the latest offering ‘Poison & Wine’ doesn’t disappoint.
Opening with successful single and title-track, ‘Poison & Wine’, The Civil Wars introduce their simplistic yet intoxicating melodies setting a mellow atmosphere for the vocals to soar over. What becomes immediately apparent is how smooth the vocal performances of Williams and White are. They interact to great effect and harmonise flawlessly. This is never clearer than on ‘Talking In Your Sleep’, which sees the vocals crescendo towards the final chorus maintaining perfect harmonies throughout.
Folksy live number, ‘Between The Bars’, sees the band at their most relaxed, with White taking the duty of lead vocals whilst Williams focuses on harmonies. The track may lack a large performance on the chorus such as the one found on the likes of ‘Disarm’, but this minimalism of the acoustic guitar combined with gentle singing only adds to its charm and demonstrates this band’s immense talent.
Whilst this record may be missing an upbeat track such as ‘Barton Hollow’ or ‘Birds Of A Feather’, it still shows just how impressive this band are. They have no need to hide behind catchy hooks or big choruses, they have an acoustic guitar, occasionally a piano and just let their ability shine through.
I mentioned earlier that I introduce The Civil Wars with hesitance, this is because they went on hiatus at the end of 2012 due to irreconcilable differences. Truly a crushing blow to the music scene after this band proved to be incredible in their short time recording, but it means we have to enjoy the music they have released and ‘Poison & Wine’ may well be their parting note.
Written by Jonathon Barlow
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.