July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tunes -- The Civil Wars, "Barton Hollow"

I have been wanting to write a Tuesday Tunes about The Civil Wars for a couple of weeks now, but I was really hoping to be able to report back after going to their July 13th concert at the historic Texas Theatre (yes, the one where Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended) here in Dallas, TX.  UNfortunately, the concert was sold out for weeks once I discovered this incredible duo of musicians.  FORtunately, they are awesome and, since they were sold out, they did a very short-notice, short set at Good Records in Dallas on the afternoon of the concert. 

Thank God for Twitter, or else I would've missed it!  I left work early on Wednesday of last week, drove down to Dallas, braving the traffic, the heat, and the lack of a/c in my car just to catch them singing a few songs.  Let me tell you...it was worth every second. 

They only played about 4 songs, but it was such an intimate setting and the chemistry between these two singers is so incredible, that it felt like a private concert, just for me. 

Their debut album, Barton Hollow, is one that I haven't been able to stop listening to since I got my grubby little paws on it. 

Check out the video for their single, "Poison and Wine," and just try to tell me that the chemistry between them isn't jumping off the screen and yanking out your heart:

They are so in tune with one another that you can almost feel them taking breaths at the same time.  And listen to how his harmony sneaks in to seamlessly lock in with her at around the 1:56 mark.  They even change dynamics together, swelling the sound when it's the absolutely perfect moment to, and then coming back off the sound in perfect harmony. 

You know what's amazing?  That's not all recording studio. They did that at the live show, too.  They seem to read each others' minds when they sing together, and that is something very special to watch.  Their performance makes their already beautiful music into something incredibly special.  Remember when I talked about performance making all the difference?  (Hint: It's right here.)

But they aren't all about the heart-wrenching lyrics found in "Poison and Wine," "Falling," and "Girl with the Red Balloon."  They also have some light-hearted, upbeat songs that make the heart smile.  My favorite is "I've Got this Friend," but "Forget Me Not" and "Barton Hollow" are equally amazing. 

One more incredible thing about these two: they perform in a lovely, pared down setting—John Paul White on guitar and Joy Williams standing beside him and singing.  That's it.  No big, loud band behind them. No flashy light shows.  There are some beautiful orchestrations and additional musicians on the album, but when they perform, there are NO distractions.  It's all about their music and the harmonies and the lyrics (which, with the exception of "Poison and Wine," were all written by JPW and JW.  P&W was written along with Chris Lindsey).

And to be able to take away all of the distractions and the decorations and just perform...and still take my breath away...proves to me that The Civil Wars are truly something special.  PLEASE do yourself a favor and go buy this album immediately. 

(oh and PS?  They're LOVELY people. I turned into a babbling fangirl when I asked them to autograph my CD, and they could not have been nicer.  I want to be best friends with them both.)

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