Monday, September 19, 2011

Love and War

Firstly, I apologize for being so unbelievably MIA last week in terms of the posting! I am usually a daily blogger, but last week there was just no way I was able to get around to it - with my last two days of the week spent at workshops, and the days leading up to it being used for preparation. But hopefully, the special little gems I'm going to put forward will start your week off properly, and I'll be forgiven...

I want to expose a band who at this point is creating large waves in the Americana and contemporary folk-rock pool - so much so that they're most likely nothing new to music appreciators everywhere. I've been following this band for about eight months now, watching them evolve, listening to their debut tunes and observing the buzz as it grows wildly. Perhaps it's because their folky fall tunes have re-entered my life this September, or perhaps it's because everything they stand for musically is everything I adore - but I felt today was the perfect day to put them out there for you to hear.

The Civil Wars are a folk, country and bluegrass combination consisting of co-vocalists Joy Williams and John Paul White - a pair who met in 2008 only to discover that their southern drawl and vocal ability are divinely interconnected and meant to resound together. As two pals married to other people (something they consider a plus in their writing process), they embarked on a recording journey that included their first (and in my mind, most beautiful) song called "Poison and Wine", which was released in 2009 to rave reviews. They continued to put their music to disc with Barton Hollow, their debut album and indie smash title track - which lead to an opening spot on Adele's tour, features in Spin and Rolling Stone Magazine and nominations at the CMT and Americana music awards.

Their perfect harmonies - so connected it's shocking the two aren't twins, family or longtime lovers - are flawless and pleasing in every sense of the words. Sentimental picking of the guitar, rolling countryside keys and the occasional soft violins make up the beautiful elements of this Southern anomaly - and I always return to their debut album when I need a flow of sublime music and lyrics that speak straight to the heart.

Here are the songs it's essential you get ahold of:

Poison and Wine - The Civil Wars: Both of their undeniably heartbroken vocals are speaking the same language on this unforgettable love song. A ballad about the severe conflicts of the heart, a not-so-lost love and the ongoing struggle that comes with the real deal - it's almost perfect in every way. Slow piano and the heartbeat of the guitar strums paired wth statements like "I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back" and "I don't have a choice but I still choose you" are the essence of one of the most honest and beautiful songs I've heard in some time.

Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars: I've featured this song before, as one of the most phenomenal stomping Americana story told this year. It's raw, vocally superior to anything else I've heard lately, and features that little bit of heat the country and western music scene needed.

I've Got This Friend  - The Civil Wars: I think this is just the sweetest song. It's all about hesitations and holding on for what you believe in - which is communicated perfectly through their milky vocals and sugary plucking guitar.


Dance Me To The End Of Love - The Civil Wars: Covering a classic Leonard Cohen favourite of mine, they both take swings at the haunting, waltzy ballad - modernizing and romanticizing every second of it with their smooth as butter voices.


20 years - The Civil Wars: With rolling strings and another effortless harmony, Joy and John Paul howl alongside a classic country melody and an eventual twinkling xylophone that sparkles like the fading Southern sun.

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