The Civil Wars are one of my new favourite bands. The folk duo won Grammies this year for best Country Duo/Group Performance for their song Barton Hollow and Best Folk Album for their album Barton Hollow. The music is finely crafted, and for the most part minimalistic: the guitar work is precise and exposed, but the vocals are the true highlight of this extraordinary duo, with rich, smooth, perfectly blended harmonies, even during the indignant Barton Hollow (see below). On Poison & Wine, which shot them to fame when it was played on Grey’s Anatomy, band member John Paul White says:
“Poison & Wine” fits the paradigm of subject matter too true to be spoken, as opposed to sung. “That song probably does sum us up—The Civil Wars, the name of the band—as well as any song that we’ve written,” White says. It’s the one song on the album written with an outside collaborator, their friend Chris Lindsey. “We’re all married, and we were all talking about the good, the bad and the ugly, and just felt like: What would you say to someone if you were actually brutally honest—the things that you could never say because it would turn them away or let the cat out of the bag or reveal yourself to be weaker? What would you actually say if you had this invisible curtain around you and could just scream it in somebody’s face and they’d actually never hear it? We were all being very painfully honest, because we’re all very comfortable around each other and know that things like that never leave the room, except in a song. I’m pretty proud of that song, to be honest.”
The indignant Barton Hollow…
…and the longing of I’ve Got This Friend:
Read more about the duo here.