Monday, January 27, 2014

Music Mondays: The Civil Wars "Barton Hallow"

Fame is a funny thing. You can have one of the most respected and critically acclaimed albums of the year, win several Grammys and have songs on TV shows and yet,  people won't know you by name. Such is the case for The Civil Wars. In 2011, the duo (Joy Williams and John Paul White) released the album Barton Hallow and received numerous accolades for their work, however, because of the current zeitgeist of music, this amazing folk album went largely unheard.

The Civil Wars Barton Hallow

Barton Hallow opens with the mysterious 20 Years. This chorus-less, relatively short song (the lyrics are only twelve lines long) about a note left for someone to read perfectly sets up the tone of Barton Hallow. In many instances in this album, we are never directly told certain things. People, objects, and even emotion are only hinted at without being directly spoken about.

20 Years

For the most part, most songs on Barton Hallow take the tone of 20 Years. However, there is one song that diverges from the trend and completely stands out because of how dynamic it is. The eponymous Barton Hallow appears half way through the album and is a powerful wake up call to make you focus again. However, though this song bucks the trend of the soft and quiet sounds of the rest of the album, it does maintain the theme of not completely telling you everything. All we know is that the speaker committed a crime/sin and he or she feels that they are a long way from salvation.

Barton Hallow

Unfortunately, as amazing as this duo is together, it appears as though we will not be hearing from them for the foreseeable future. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Joy Williams reveals that she and John Paul White had a falling out after completing their second album, 2013's The Civil Wars. While the band hasn't announced a breakup, they are on hiatus and Joy is quoted in the aforementioned article saying, "If John Paul and I can find a place to meet in the middle, I believe that there could be a future for the band."

This is truly a shame because John Paul and Joy make amazing music together. Not only are they great song writers and singers, they can cover a song like no one else I've heard. Take for example, The Jackson 5's I Want You Back. John Paul and Joy strip the song down to it's bones and where there was once a danceable tune, now exists a melancholic song about longing and despair. 



  1. I've never heard of them but I'm gonna have to give them my ear.

  2. Please do. It's a great album that deserves more listeners.

  3. You forgot to mention (not mistakenly since it wasn't on this album) that this duo also did a beautiful son with Taylor Swift. I forget the name of it but, as someone who does not like Taylor Swift, I loved the match up because it was harmonic, poetic, pleasant and - mostly- unexpected!

  4. Taylor Swift? Really? I'll have to listen to it to believe it lol



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