The Civil Wars - Live At Eddie's Attic
- Artist: The Civil Wars
- EP: Live At Eddie's Attic
- Label: Sensibility
- Year of Release: 2009
- ME Rating:
- Reviewed by: carlita on 2012-04-09
When the singer-songwriters, the Civil Wars caught my ear during this year's Grammys a few months ago, I was immediately drawn to their sorrowful, haunting harmonies. Taking home two Grammys in February, this "opposites attract" Alabama meets California pop-folk duo, comprised of John Paul White and Joy Williams, appeared to be on the brink of crossover accidental superstardom. I recently went to their website and was happy to find a free EP, "Live At Eddie's Attic" (The Attic being a beloved Atlanta live music spot I've heard great things about), scoring a few points in my book because I'm an unabashed fan of the concepts: "free", "live" and "acoustic". There's no huge production with 40 people on stage, autotuning, or backup singers to hide behind. You either perform well with a guitar and a piano or you don't, period.
Taking a risk releasing this recording of just their second live show in 2009, John Paul jokes at the beginning of the album, "If you're not sad, you're going to be", which made the audience and I, the listener, laugh because it's pretty much right on the money. Even uptempo songs like "Tip of My Tongue" have dark undertones. Disrupting the somber mood created by the set, in between the songs, you can sense a free and easy rapport with light ribbing like they've known each other for a long time like a husband/wife or brother/sister- which they are neither. Their stripped, evocative harmonies complement each other superbly, as Joy brings a little Dixie Chicks Natalie Maines/Evanescence Amy Lee and John Paul softly matches each note like a folky Jack White/ Art Garfunkel combo.
Doing a mournfully slow pop cover of Sade's "No Ordinary Love", it offered an interesting interpretation of the song I didn't expect. Favorites included the future hit "Poison & Wine" which was featured prominently on "Grey's Anatomy", the vividly descriptive coal mine hometown anthem "My Father's Father" and the demo version of "Falling"; I surprisingly enjoyed and felt the melancholy, perhaps much like the "Girl with the Red Balloon" for hours afterwards.
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