The Civil Wars (Joy Williams and John Paul White) made a big splash with their best-selling first album, Barton Hollow, and their electrifying live performances. They were so good that they had almost everyone who saw them waiting to see what they would do next. It turns out that the chemistry between them on stage was due, in part, to their different working styles, and it became impossible for them to continue working together. Fortunately for us their amazing follow-up album, simply and appropriately called The Civil Wars, was mostly complete when they took an indefinite hiatus.
Some of the songs, like the lead single “The One That Got Away,” chronicle the tension that built over the making of the album. Others are just beautiful songs performed with passion and style. While Williams’s voice is featured slightly more than White’s, the real story here is the way the two voices intertwine with each other and with White’s guitar. This is simply one of the best new albums I’ve heard this year. (Sensibility Recordings)