Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars
Barton Hollow Image
Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 24 Ratings

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  • Summary: The full-length debut from Joy Williams and John Paul White – featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy – is a collection of lyrically deep songs of love and the human condition, using the simplicity of multiple instruments and soulful vocals.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Mar 5, 2012
    90
    Delicate duets, bluegrass string strumming and some of the most genuinely emotive lyrics you'll hear all year combine to produce an album of rare and beautiful quality.
  2. Mar 21, 2011
    80
    Sure, Barton Hollow's love-swept core and well-worn conventions might make it a tad limited, but for what it sets outs to accomplish, it succeeds with pitch-perfect elegance.
  3. Jan 31, 2011
    80
    Barton Hollow may be a fictional location, but The Civil Wars' music gives it a voice and identity-one of mystery, mystique and beauty. War has never been so pleasant.
  4. Dec 20, 2011
    80
    Those who don't like rootsy ballads are in for some slim pickings, since Barton Hollow shines its brightest whenever the tempos slow, the lights dim, and the voices rise up.
  5. Mar 30, 2012
    80
    A timeless, anachronistic record, Barton Hollow could be from 30 years ago, or it could be from 30 years hence.
  6. Apr 25, 2012
    80
    Two gorgeously restless, swarthy voices destined to be together. [May 2012, p.92]
  7. Apr 13, 2012
    40
    Deeply unengaging. [May 2012, p.94]

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Feb 2, 2014
    10
    This is one of my all-time favorite albums. Every song is in my Top 100 playlist. If I was on a deserted island I would take this album withThis is one of my all-time favorite albums. Every song is in my Top 100 playlist. If I was on a deserted island I would take this album with me. This is as real, pure, soulful, and honest as music can get. The partnership of JW & JPW's voices is perfection and their songwriting leaves nothing lacking. The covers are pure icing! Expand
  2. Dec 29, 2011
    10
    The best new group on the music scene today. Joy Williams breaks away from her pop-rock background and turns in a stunning performance as aThe best new group on the music scene today. Joy Williams breaks away from her pop-rock background and turns in a stunning performance as a sensitive romantic lover. She was heading in this direction in 2009 with "Speaking a Dead Language" only to discover the perfect compliment in John Paul White, whose the voice and body frames her masterfully. As good as this album is they are even better live where the harmony of their entire selves shines through. Their remake of "Dance Me to the End of Love is better than the original. Their musical style is likely too niche to achieve mainstream success but they will go on to build a devoted (even rabid) fan base. Count me as being on the bandwagon, right now. Expand
  3. Nov 19, 2013
    10
    I couldn't believe it when I first listened to them that this is just their debut album. They sound like they have been making music forI couldn't believe it when I first listened to them that this is just their debut album. They sound like they have been making music for decades now. The tracks are all produced beautifully with Joy's and John's vocals mix in just the right amount of harmonization. Barton Hollow is absolutely one of the best folk releases in years. Expand
  4. Dec 1, 2011
    8
    Very emotionally driven album. Every song supports the controlling theme of struggling with love and searching in everything for it. The songVery emotionally driven album. Every song supports the controlling theme of struggling with love and searching in everything for it. The song "To Whom It May Concern" speaks deeply to the struggle of the search and the passion for what is in store, where "The Violet Hour" gives a mesmerizing expression that can't be expressed with words. Excellent album, and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those searching for a deeper, more passionate meaning in their music. Expand
  5. Nov 17, 2012
    8
    One of the best debuts in years, The Civil Wars are branded as country, but that
  6. Jan 20, 2012
    8
    The Civil Wars build off of Allison Kraus and The Swell Season in a very effective way. The ballads are lovely and carefully crafted. InThe Civil Wars build off of Allison Kraus and The Swell Season in a very effective way. The ballads are lovely and carefully crafted. In today's music, it is very refreshing to hear a girl/guy duo sing together with such great songwriting. We need more of these collaborations in today's music. Expand
  7. Oct 2, 2011
    7
    Because I was drawn to the album by hearing the title cut, I was disappointed to find that it was atypical. "Barton Hollow," the song, layersBecause I was drawn to the album by hearing the title cut, I was disappointed to find that it was atypical. "Barton Hollow," the song, layers the lovely harmonies of The Civil Wars over raw blues-based rock, producing a tense, edgy beauty that is, in a word, sublime. The rest of the album generally lacks that tension, opting for loveliness alone. There's nothing wrong with sounding lovely, of course, and the voices of John Paul White and Joy Williams truly do, being perfectly matched and preternaturally responsive to one another. But the best of the slower, sweeter songs, in my opinion, is the duo's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love," with its terrifying murderous subtext, so, once again, dissonant elements seem to raise their game. So far, their folkier songwriting tends not to introduce such elements, despite being much enamored of paradox in their lyrics ("I don't love you, but I always will"). So these songs feel flat to me--lovely, but flat. A hundred thousand "Gray's Anatomy" fans disagree, however, so feel free to love this album unreservedly. If you're a fan of the sublime, however (and you know what the sublime is), then you may want just to download the two songs I've mentioned (and, perhaps "Birds of a Feather," which has a little rawness to it) then wait to see where this band goes. Given their name, they should be all about the tension between harmony and discord--in their music, as well as their lyrics. Collapse