You’ll like them if you like: Ray Lamontagne, sitting by the fire with a cup of tea, roasted walnuts, syrup on blueberry pancakes (or just pancakes in general), The Swell Season, boy-girl vocals that melt seamlessly into one another.
I’ve previously mentioned The Civil Wars in an ON THE VERGE feature as an up-and-coming band about to make the big leagues, and boy was I right. The folksy duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White were the first musicians to have a song of theirs (“Poison & Wine”) played in its entirety on Grey’s Anatomy, they recently played Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, and they’ve been featured in Paste Magazine; basically, they been popping up everywhere–and all before the release of their debut LP, Barton Hollow (out Feb. 1 via Sensibility Music). All the attention they’ve gotten is not without good reason: these two have real, unadulterated talent–and they have substance.
Now to add to the hype, they’ve offered up the lead single of the same name off their forthcoming album for free download! And if you haven’t already downloaded their free live album, Live at Eddie’s Attic, (which is what first got them noticed and garnered them fans–hint hint, independent musicians!) just head on over here to pick up your free copy! Also, I got a chance to listen to the full album when they were streaming it earlier today from 12-1 pm. Verdict: Heavenly.
WHO: Joy Williams and John Paul White
WHERE: Nashville, Tennessee / Florence, Alabama
SOUNDS LIKE: Curling up by a warm fire with a glass of red wine
CONNECT THE DOTS: Ten out of Tenn (collective), Madi Diaz, Erin McCarley
CLAIM TO FAME: Free digital album: Live @ Eddie’s Attic (download below!)
FOR FANS OF: The Swell Season, The Honey Trees
You may know Joy Williams as the voice of the new Oscar Meyer theme song, “Doesn’t Get Better Than This” or from her song placements on numerous television shows. You may even remember her as one of the Christian musicians your parents let you listen to as a child. But perhaps you haven’t yet heard of The Civil Wars.
After previously being on a major label and then releasing a couple EPs on her and her husband’s independent label, Sensibility Music, Williams has now joined forces with singer-songwriter John Paul White, the pen behind a couple of country tunes from well-known artists (LeAnn Rimes, Matthew Mayfield, Jason Aldean to name a few). They met by chance at a songwriting session in Los Angeles, hit it off, wrote a couple tracks–and that, dear readers, is the story of how The Civil Wars came to be.
Their sound is warm and inviting, with lyrics offering reflection on life and love. Williams and White’s voices blend together so well it’s as if it was somewhat inevitable that they sing together. The Civil Wars offer up a brand of music that is sincere, honest, raw to the bone, and without gimmicks–giving their stripped back sound the ability to withstand time and the influx of fads that come and go it. And with slow-burning, folk-tinged songs, “melodic melancholy folk” is what I think best describes the music these two make together in this age of blending genres.
Last year, I had the pleasure of speaking to Joy about the struggles and triumphs of being an independent musician, having already experienced the major label world. She had some thought-provoking insights into the industry and was incredibly well-spoken, and I think that really comes across in her co-writing with John Paul White. We discussed how we are living in an unprecedented era of the independent artist in which there are so many avenues and platforms through which musicians can get their music out to the public.
And the technological era has done really incredible things for the pair: their free live album has been downloaded over 80,000 times; their 2009 four-song EP, Poison & Wine, debuted at #4 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Top Albums chart; and the EP’s title track was played in full on “Grey’s Anatomy.” (And wow, when was the last time you’ve heard a song played in full on TV?) See how much the Internet and a little good ‘ol word of mouth can come in handy for independent artists?
The mesmerizing duo will be releasing their debut full-length Barton Hollow on Feb. 1, 2011 via Sensibility Music, and it’s only a matter of time before they make it big. Can’t wait to see what The Civil Wars has in store for all of us in the coming year!
[DOWNLOAD]: The Civil Wars – Live @ Eddie’s Attic **Don’t forget to spread the word!**