The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars

by The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars


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Like any union that carries some measure of professional convenience, the Civil Wars encountered difficulties as they began to mature. Unlike other groups whose history extended to a professional gathering of songwriters and singers, the duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White were blessed with considerable immediate success: their 2011 debut climbed its way into the U.S. Top 10, going gold and winning two Grammys along the way. Any other band would've basked in such success, but the Civil Wars began to splinter, announcing in November of 2012 that they were taking a hiatus, leaving behind this, an eponymous second album (along with a soundtrack collaboration with T-Bone Burnett for the documentary A Place at the Table). The Civil Wars doesn't feel unfinished, but it does contain some loose ends that are even more apparent after the refined execution of Barton Hollow, which was an album that glided along upon its own cool reserve. Williams and White hardly abandon that sense of quivering, dreamy sweetness -- the very way they harmonize avoids any dirt or grit -- but they surround themselves with darker colors on The Civil Wars, occasionally opting for bigger, bolder arrangements that underline either the melancholy or yearning underpinning their songs. Cannily, the duo sequence the album to open with a couple of their moodier pieces -- "The One That Got Away," where Williams leans into her phrasing in a manner reminiscent of Amy Lee, and "I Had Me a Girl," a remnant from their Rick Rubin collaboration -- and they occasionally return to such charged sturm and drang, including the neo-gothic melodrama of "Devil's Backbone." Elsewhere, they kick up the tempo and spirit a notch -- "From This Valley" contains echoes of Appalachia and is livelier than anything on Barton Hollow, "Oh Henry" is spare and twitchy like a nerve -- but the duo remain entrenched in harmonies so close they ache and guitars that strum their support without ever gaining attention. Lyrics hint at disquiet beneath the surface, but so much of The Civil Wars can be appreciated merely upon that surface, hearing Williams and White ease into their harmonies as they tastefully conjure spirits of the past to inhabit the present. Ultimately, the Civil Wars are impeccable craftsmen, taking weathered elements and repurposing them for something that feels new and never haunted by what came before.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/05/2017
Label: Sony Special Product
UPC: 0889854328825
catalogNumber: 543288
Rank: 42743

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Civil Wars   Primary Artist
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
Charlie Peacock   Bass,Piano,Drums,Keyboards,fender rhodes,keyboard bass,Linn Drum,Ambience
Barry Bales   Acoustic Bass
Dan Dugmore   Pedal Steel Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Jerry McPherson   Electric Guitar
Joy Williams   Vocals
Sam Ashworth   Tambourine,Tom-Tom
Mark Hill   Bass
Andy Leftwich   Fiddle,Mandolin
Aaron Sterling   Cymbals,Drums,Bass Drums
John Paul White   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Gabe Scott   Hammered Dulcimer
Jeff Taylor   Piano,Accordion,Harmonium,Pump Organ

Technical Credits

Charlie Peacock   Composer,Producer,Engineer,overdub engineer,Vocal Engineer,Instrumentation,Instrument Arrangement
Clarence Carter   Composer
Phil Madeira   Composer
Richie Biggs   Engineer,overdub engineer,Vocal Engineer
Billy Corgan   Composer
Marcus Daniel   Composer
Rick Rubin   Producer
Don Srygley   Engineer
Joy Williams   Composer
Greg Fidelman   Engineer
Sam Ashworth   Engineer
Wilbur Terrell   Composer
Eric Lynn   Engineer
Becky Peterson   Vocal Assistance
John Paul White   Composer
Nate Yetton   Executive Producer
Katie Moore   Art Direction
Ben Baptie   Pro-Tools
James Sweeting   Engineer,Loop
Renata Pepper   Translation Assistant
Pom Tawan   Cover Image

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