Given the fact that Joy Williams and John Paul White, the two halves of US country-folk group The Civil Wars, are apparently no longer on speaking terms, much will be read into the lyrical discontent spread throughout their second album.
Lines such as “I wish I’d never seen your face” and “I don’t want to fight but I’ll fight you if I have to” seem to imply all was not well during the making of their sophomore record.
Which is a terrible shame because the pair are two of the nicest musicians that this scribbler has interviewed in the past 20 years.
If stories of “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition” are bound to cloud opinions on this self-titled album, there are instances of the harmonic brilliance that made its predecessor such compelling listening that shouldn’t be overlooked either.
In the Same Old Same Old, Eavesdrop and the cover version of the Smashing Pumpkins number Disarm, Williams and White’s voices interweave to stunning effect.
The soft French ballad Sacred Heart is reminiscent of the McGarrigles.
The rest is messy, as break-ups often are. But if this really is the end of The Civil Wars, they’ve left a touching legacy.