Introducing: The Civil Wars
  • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2012

  • Posted by: Kathryn Queen

In their debut album, The Civil Wars have a song entitled, "Forget Me Not" and it seems, that is the exact virtue the group intends to project. Singers Joy Williams and John Paul White combine acoustic elements and gentle guitar to create a unique and individualized sound. The two, whose voices harmonize effortlessly, met at a song writing session in 2008, recorded their first performance at Eddie's Attic in Georgia, and released their first album in 2011. The name, which Williams says has little to do with the historical reference (in this video interview), alludes to the "small tiny largely unseen battles we have individually or with people that we love or things that we contend with whether it be addictions, our jobs our God or lack of God." These elements that Williams describes seep through every pore of the duo's album, creating a blank canvas for listeners to paint themselves onto.

The duo have recently gained a great amount of notoriety and buzz, performing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and at the Sundance Film Festival. The band has also been featured in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and Interview Magazine. The pair, who on top of all that have had a significant amount of international attention, are now nominated for a Grammy, for Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group. No one can question that The Civil Wars have certainly started to make a name for themselves as a prominent and powerful duo. Their success has been attributed to a number of factors, beyond their unquestionable talent. They have been very honest with the public and their fan base through various social media outlets, and have taken advantage of each and every opportunity they have been given. Their authenticity and obvious compatibility have drawn fans in and captivated them with their open and truthful portrayal. As independent artists, they consider themselves, to some extent, to be a byproduct of the Internet and platforms like Facebook and YouTube, as that is where most of their music has circulated.



Using minimalistic instrumental support, White and Williams are able to present and expose the bare bones of their silky smooth voices, swirling together like warm milk and honey. Combining southern and folk influences, the duo have created an image that focuses on the simplistic features of their music, rather than relying on soundboards and mixes to enhance the sound. Incorporating violins, and pedal guitars, the rising sensation explore all aspects of life, love, and relationships. Their title song, "Poison & Wine," which gained prominence after its feature on hit television show Grey's Anatomy, uses simple guitar chords and gentle piano to accompany the fine timbre of these two voices, creating an exquisite and heartbreaking piece of music. The song, which has been an immediate hit is based on a number of very private moments the pair shared about their respective marriages, a song that, White says, he's "pretty proud of... to be honest."

There is something so exceptionally unique about having a duo this in sync. Many fans are surprised to learn that the pair are not involved with one another, despite being close friends since the writing session that sparked their union. Currently residing in Tennessee, both Williams and White agree that their work would not be able to delve into nearly as many difficult emotional issues were they married or otherwise involved. As their music explores the nooks and crannies of the "individual battle," their friendship allows for a convergence of experiences, ideas, and feelings. They are as compatible off stage as on stage; constantly goofing around and poking fun at one another, and the brother-sister like duo are consistently looking for new ways to interact with one another, as well as with their audience, through performance.

By striping the elements bare, the two must depend on one another for cues, tempo, and improvisation in order to work as a team. Beyond the music, the group has created an image that encapsulates both Williams' northern California upbringing, and White's Southern childhood. By combining simplistic elements with their tawny whispering voices, they have created an ambiance that encompasses who they are as a pair. Their music videos, shot mostly in black and white, simultaneously evoke feelings of lust and longing. Simply shot in coffee houses and forest trails, the videos, much like the songs themselves, are shot with a minimalistic style, letting the music speak for itself, illuminated only by the subtlety of the surroundings.



Barton Hallow was released in 2011, and peaked at the number one spot on iTunes. Their new website, features concert dates, music, and information about the artists for anyone interested in learning more about the band themselves.

Although they have not released any information about a second album, they will, with out a doubt, be making noise in the coming months.





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