Album review: The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

PUBLISHED: 11:33 10 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:21 10 August 2013

The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars


Rising from the apparent ashes of this duo’s working relationship, this sophomore album nevertheless retains some of the electric emotion of the their debut.

From the slinky monochrome website, you’d be hard-pushed to guess that the second album from this triple-Grammy-winning pair arrives eight months after an acrimonious split that may never see these songs performed for an audience.

The clues are there – a brooding dust cloud gracing the cover and PR material referencing a ‘gruelling touring schedule’ and ‘growing disconnect from their families’ as informing this eponymous follow-up.

The intensity between Joy Williams and John Paul White that enriched the debut Barton Hollow still flickers here and there – see the pained regret oozing from The One That Got Away, wishing for the time “you only held me in my mind” – but a few too many songs lack the same crackle.

I Had Me A Girl finds them both at full emotional tilt, a coruscating electric guitar adding to its prickly dramatics.

A cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ Disarm loses much in its acoustic reworking, but on the whole their intertwining vocals still sound great, whether baleful or soaring, in harmony or counterpoint.

3 stars

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