I’ve heard the name The Civil Wars knocked around for a little while now but I’ve never paid attention to them. I think for a while I was confusing them with that awful pop-country Lady Antebellum band. It ends up that The Civil Wars have a lot more in common with She & Him than Lady Antebellum though, and even more in common with Johnny Cash and June Carter. It just took me a while to realize it. Naturally, it was the beautiful ballad that the duo did with my beloved Taylor Swift that got me to pay some attention to The Civil Wars. I mean, of course it was Taylor Swift that did it. This isn’t surprising.
I’ve always been a steadfast champion of Taylor Swift. Let’s face it, she’s by far the most legit pop star today. She’s the only pop star that seems aware of the fact that millions of teenage girls watch her every move. She’s an incredibly smart businesswoman. Plus, she’s cute as a button. Unfortunately, her good-girl image often means that her talent is often overlooked. That being said, homegirl isn’t exactly the best songwriter in the world so when I found out that The Civil Wars had co-written the gorgeous ballad with T. Swizzle, I wasn’t surprised. But it did motivate me to check them out. And guess what? They’re pretty good!
The Civil Wars have got this sort of “Innocence Mission meets Iron and Wine on Johnny Cash’s dad’s farm for a jam session” vibe. It’s pretty and it’s unobjectionable but I wish they were a little more imaginative or something. I bet “To Whom It May Concern,” off the band’s 2011 Barton Hollow, would sound absolutely stellar with a saw. But then again, what doesn’t sound better with a saw? The best moments on Barton Hollow come when the band gets a little sassy, like on “Birds of a Feather.” There’s no doubt that the Nashville duo has a sick amount of talent but I think they’ll reach true levels of epic badassery when they do something unexpected. Like make a whole album of murder ballads. I mean, with those voices, I bet The Civil Wars could bust out an album full of the most haunting murder ballads ever. When it comes down to it, I’m pretty sure “Safe & Sound” is totally kind of a murder ballad I guess because it’s about death, right? It’s for The Hunger Games and it pretty much perfectly describes Rue’s death through Katniss’s perspective. I don’t know if you guys have heard about this Hunger Games nonsense but the soundtrack for the surefire hit movie is going to have Arcade Fire and The Decemberists alongside that Taylor Swift jam so you know it’s going to be pretty legit.
As for Swift? In my opinion, she should collaborate with these Civil War kiddos more often. And she really ought to stick with letting T. Bone Burnett produce her stuff because nothing in the world would suit Swift’s dreamy, whispy vocals better than a whole album of stark balladry like “Safe & Sound.” True story.