Artist; The Civil Wars
Song; Barton Hollow
Genre; Rock, Indie, Folk, Alternative
Where exactly is “Barton Hollow?” Quite frankly, I’m not even sure that the place exists, but if the opening chords of The Civil Wars’ song are any indication, its definitely somewhere in the dirty South. The striking harmonies of Joy Williams and John Paul White are chillingly gorgeous, while the acoustic guitar playing is gritty and striking. The delightful combination immediately conjures up images of dusty roads, dimly lit bars, and Louisiana’s swamplands. It’s a song that immediately takes you to new places, and there’s something to be said for that magical quality.
The unique duo also possesses some incredible vocal capabilities. Joy’s voice has a lush, smokey quality which is simply decadent. It works well to compliment John’s bluesy and soulful tone. Together, they produce some magical harmonies, and really bring the lyrics to life. With full emotional conviction, I can’t help but get chills when I listen to them sing lines like “I’m a dead man walking,” and “Can’t no preacher man save my soul.”
One of the most interesting features, however, may be the simplicity of the song’s instrumentals. Accompanied mostly by the acoustic guitar, the duo relies on little else, which allows their vocals to really soar. A delicate violin enters occasionally to help give us a tender melody, and a banjo can be heard to help keep the track “southern fried,” but otherwise, it’s uniquely minimalist. Despite the basic instrumentals, the song is paced so well that it rarely becomes boring. The melody builds, falls, and comes to a roaring climax in a well paced manner that keeps listeners interested from start to finish.
The Civil Wars may be new on the scene, but they are carving out a nice niche for themselves somewhere between folk, country, and hard rock music. “Barton Hollow” may not exist, but this song gives me a clear-as-day picture of what it’s like to walk down it’s dirt roads at sunset…haunting, mysterious, simple, and beautiful.