The Civil Wars

  • Record Label: Columbia
  • Release Date: Aug 6, 2013

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29
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  1. [The songs] are nothing short of radiant, from the perfect vocals to the organic, full-bodied arrangements, from the heart-rending lyrics to the way that producer Charlie Peacock surrounds everything in a smoky ambiance.
  2. Aug 5, 2013
    Singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White brought in more instruments, added deeper textures and, in general, upped the intensity of the songwriting for their second effort.
  3. Aug 6, 2013
    Even in the quieter moments, like Williams’ dreamy French lead vocal on “Sacred Heart” and album closer “D’Arline,” there’s the sense that such raw, bare emotion has enabled The Civil Wars to delve deep to intricate details, but also to amplify the internal conflict to greater heights.
  4. 83
    While the result might seem a little like that awkward first post-split Christmas when Dad comes back and crashes on the couch, it turns out that, well, conflict suits them.
  5. Aug 30, 2013
    The Civil Wars improves upon its predecessor.
  6. Aug 23, 2013
    It’s edgy, but civil, and it looks like the war will rage on for the time being at least, regardless of the outcome of each emotional battle.
  7. Aug 6, 2013
    The tension that fills The Civil Wars, giv[es] the songs a sense of weight and purpose that wasn’t apparent on their 2011 debut, “Barton Hollow.”
  8. Aug 6, 2013
    Working with producer Charlie Peacock, in spite of discord, the pair refine and expand the sound they architected into a more intense take on their tortured (implied) sexual tension.
  9. Aug 5, 2013
    It's unfortunate, really, since without any of that baggage [professional separation], The Civil Wars stands as a powerful and haunting collection that exemplifies Nashville's current fixation with slickly updating traditional themes.
  10. Aug 5, 2013
    The Civil Wars have gone from blithely conjuring a co-ed version of the Everly Brothers to making a tense, assertive Southern gothic album, complete with religious undertones, images of decaying locales, and tales of troubled relationships.
  11. 80
    The Civil Wars offers up 12 perfectly elegant, subtly arranged Americana songs of bad love, misplaced emotion, cheating hearts, fighting and fleeing.
  12. Aug 1, 2013
    Serene yet disturbed, this is album that progresses the band well.
  13. Uncut
    Jul 31, 2013
    The Civil Wars proves more than capable of producing its own dark drama. [Sep 2013, p.79]
  14. 80
    The Civil Wars is a testament to the power of their undeniable musical chemistry. It’s even better than their Grammy-winning debut, Barton Hollow.
  15. 80
    There might not be a “Poison & Wine” here, but taken as a whole, The Civil Wars is a more consistent collection than Barton Hollow.
  16. Aug 6, 2013
    Its inability to be contained within one genre is the band’s strength and triumph.
  17. 75
    The Civil Wars is darker and more expansive than the group's sometimes-snoozy debut, with more varied tempos and instrumental contributions by Nashville pros.
  18. Aug 5, 2013
    Ultimately, the Civil Wars are impeccable craftsmen, taking weathered elements and repurposing them for something that feels new and never haunted by what came before.
  19. Aug 1, 2013
    Darker and more intense than their Grammy-winning debut, their second LP solidifies a drama-heavy brand identity reflected in their band name.
  20. Aug 14, 2013
    Whereas the debut evidenced White and Williams' exquisite knack for singing together, the set was somewhat heavy on ballads that sounded like they were made to soundtrack television dramas. The Civil Wars corrects this both in the song selection and in the way the compositions are delivered.
  21. Q Magazine
    Aug 20, 2013
    It's the same stark template of vocals, acoustic guitars and assorted surprising adornments, but they save themselves from the overworthy trap by those voices. [Sep 2013, p.100]
  22. Mojo
    Aug 13, 2013
    In spite of its two-headed musical harmony, the personal disharmony in The Civil Wars is all too evident. [Sep 2013, p.94]
  23. Aug 7, 2013
    The lasting sense left is of an unexplored potential which, if this is it for The Civil Wars, could be in its own messy way an appropriate swansong.
  24. At times, listening to The Civil Wars is like wading through a swamp of still-raw emotion. It is an album that is more haunted than haunting.
  25. 60
    The mordant songwriting redeems The Civil Wars.
  26. Aug 7, 2013
    This polite Americana mistakes solemnity for seriousness.
  27. Jul 31, 2013
    This is a limping, bloodless version of The Civil Wars, and if the band is to have a future they need to fix their issues, or else learn to channel the damage better.
  28. Sep 5, 2013
    Ultimately, The Civil Wars plays out lyrically insipid and completely oblivious to the fact that their vocals strive for meaningful but define overbearing.
  29. 30
    Too often their over-earnest delivery is unbearable.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jul 2, 2015
    Hands down, this is one of the best folk-rock records I've ever heard. The duo pick up right where they left off with 2011's "Barton Hallow"Hands down, this is one of the best folk-rock records I've ever heard. The duo pick up right where they left off with 2011's "Barton Hallow" but with sharper tunes and stronger lyrics. Every single song on the album is a stand-out, except "Oh, Henry" which is a bit weak, but still digestible. The chemistry between John-Paul and Joy is relentless and better than ever. Great record. Full Review »
  2. Nov 19, 2013
    This self-titled sophomore set is truly amazing and emotional. "The One That Got Away" got me all excited right off the very second it wasThis self-titled sophomore set is truly amazing and emotional. "The One That Got Away" got me all excited right off the very second it was released and waiting for the album was painful because it was way too intriguing. I got the album the very first day of its release, and it doesn't disappoint at all. My favorite track would be "Same Old Same Old" which offers just the right amount of sadness, happiness, introspective lyrics, and tremendous vocals. The Civil Wars is like a gift for popular music. Full Review »