THE CIVIL WARS

Despite our brief love affair with cowboy boots three years ago, the odd cowboy hat for the ever-burning Englishman, and the Cotton Eye Joe, the music of the Deep South is something that rarely permeates the UK’s psyche…

Unable to identify with the cowboy culture unless buying a check shirt from Uniqlo, country music never tends to be the hot topic on everyone’s lips or the cool new genre. Sure we had Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift after huge success in America and after their tracks made it onto Glee and we may have secretly found them undeniably catchy, but to many of the English they come across as novelty tracks and are very, very American. Ever heard of Toby Keith taking the number one spot on the country charts or The Band Perry comfortably placed at number 4? Me neither. But you have heard of Adele, and when our favourite British songstress tells us the Nashville duo The Civil Wars are “the best band I’ve ever seen” and “make my heart hurt, but make it stronger at the same time,” we are damn well going to listen up.

Far from novelty, California/Nashville Joy Williams and her Alabaman partner John Paul White ooze simplicity with stripped back vocals and an acoustic guitar creating something entirely effortless. It’s just the right mix of country, folk and blue grass and the perfect combination of voices that will hit a wider audience than those wearing the star spangled banner. Beyond that is their chemistry live where the duo melt into each others vocals and make your heart flutter, with the added extra that John Paul White looks like Johnny Depp. From their album Barton Hollow it’s “Poison and Wine” and “Barton Hollow” that will have you swooning, while their chosen covers, Jackson 5’s “Want You Back” and Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the End of Love” are almost unrecognisable disguised with breathtaking harmonies and that old country guitar.

The Civil Wars are far from unknown or underground; their second show at Eddie’s Attic in Georgia was attended by an estimated 100,000 and they’re up for two Grammy Awards. Adele has asked them on her US and UK tours and Taylor Swift, America’s biggest Pop Star, included “Poison & Wine” in her official Itunes playlist calling it her favourite duet. On checking their twitter, their latest was a reply thanking none other than LeAnn Rimes for her congratulations on the album making #5 on Amazon’s top 100 albums.

However, if you’re not into your American music you may have never heard of them. And if you’re still in Clapham lamenting Capital’s Radio’s latest playlist of tattooed and talentless hoodlums our country seems to love, let “Barton Hollow” transport you to a river, or a wide open field, or wherever those cowboys in the movies hang out. If it’s good enough for our Tottenham potty-mouthed favourite Adele, it’s good enough for us.

The Civil Wars are playing in Leeds on the 18th of March at Leeds Met (changed from the Wardrobe due to popular demand) and London on the 19th. Their album Barton Hollow is out now on iTunes.

For more info check their website http://www.thecivilwars.com

Images: Courtesy of Allister Ann

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