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CD Review: The Civil Wars' 'The Civil Wars'

Published August 1, 2013 10:29 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Civil Wars, the folk duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams, acrimoniously broke up in late 2013, but before they disbanded in the midst of a European tour they recorded enough material for a second album. Because of the circumstances, you would expect their sophomore record to be a disorganized hodge-podge, but in one of the most remarkable surprises of the year, the album "The Civil Wars" is one of the most cohesive and captivating albums of the year. This second album shows how much combustible chemistry the two created during the non-stop touring that followed in the wake of their Grammy-winning debut, "Barton Hollow," and with a more robust backing, including the use of electric guitars for the first time, Williams and White come up with songs full of sexual tension, longing and regret. In particular interest for Utahns is that "Oh Henry" was written in Salt Lake City during one of their tour stops, and an innovative cover of Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm" was arranged by the two on the same day, in the same place "Oh Henry" was written. It will be sad, so sad if this is their swan song, and will never be performed live again.

Grade: A