November 04

An Album Review of Sorts: The Civil Wars



I rarely find artists that I love enough to want to see in concert. Even more rare is that I’ll enjoy a second album as much as I enjoyed the one that reeled me in to their sound. For that reason I always get super nervous just before a follow-up album releases. And I don’t often buy earlier albums by a new-to-me artist either. 

I don’t know if I’m hard to please, or if I fall in love with a very specific sound that is unique to only that album, or if I’m just terrible at appreciating the growth of an artist’s style/sound/maturity, but when I buy those follow-up albums I’m always crossing my fingers and holding my breath as I take that first listen. 

My biggest worry this year has been The Civil Wars’ follow-up to Barton Hollow. First, they announced that they were taking a break from each other (I thought I would DIE) and then they had a great song on The Hunger Games soundtrack (Kingdom Come) that I told myself would hold me over until they released another album. 

So when the time finally came and The Civil Wars was actually available, what did I do? I froze. I wanted the album. I wanted it badly, but was also so scared. With all the turmoil the two were having, I was terrified that the album would suck. I was also just convinced it couldn’t compare to Barton Hollow, which helped me survive brutal revisions to one book and kept me truly inspired through the writing of another. 

At some point my husband just brought the album home for me, for which I was extremely grateful, and I finally got my chance to really listen to their newest sound and lyrics. And, well, I was NOT disappointed. I will admit there is *one* song on the album that I don’t love. But that’s it. Just one song. The rest of the songs do exactly what I had hoped they would. They carry me away into new, darker places. 

From the very first song, The One That Got Away, the artists weave in and out of stories of love and heartbreak. Joy’s voice echoes hauntingly through the tracks, leaving me on the verge of tears at times, and just when I think it has been too long without John Paul’s rich voice, he delivers his own lines to perfection. 

My personal favorites from the album are hard to choose, because my favorites may change depending on my mood, but Eavesdrop, Dust to Dust and Oh Henry are always at the top of my list. 

After so much anticipation, I am thrilled that The Civil Wars have once again been able to win me over. To say I’m already dying for their next album would be an understatement of epic proportions. And next time, I’m not so sure I’ll be so nervous.  

To Joy and John Paul: Bravo!