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Poison & Wine
Artist: The Civil Wars
Label: Sensibility Music LLC
Release Date: November 15, 2009
Duration 4 tracks, 12:31

Live At Eddie's Attic
(Free 9 song download)

Creative collaborations have been born out of changes to the music industry in the past decade.  Recently two have been prominently placed among recent tunes I play often.  One is The Civil Wars and the other is Fistful of Mercy found in another of my reviews this month.

The Civil Wars collaboration consists of Joy Williams (vocals, keyboards) and John Paul White (vocals, acoustic guitar).  Here, Joy's maturity in music finds a partner in John Paul White's soulful style with melancholy songs of life and its relationships.  The songs flow with strong emotion, are easy to listen to while complicated in message, musically light and airy, yet lyrically heavy.

"Poison & Wine", the EP's namesake, has a hint of Damien Rice inherit in the refrain 'I don't love you, I always will.'  Where this song stands on its own is in the sorrowful lyrics of relationship, powerful in the combined voices of this duet. "Go" and "Pressing Flowers" display a great play of lyrics and voices accompanied by soft acoustic guitar.  "Tip of My Tongue" romps along with brilliant acoustic guitar, sharp and pointed vocals, and very well placed breaks making this a fun and fresh experience.

For a free taste of The Civil Wars, download Live At Eddie's Attic at  Here you will find 8 songs recorded live ending with a demo version of the song "Falling".  This is a great introduction to the fresh sound of The Civil Wars with:

  • "20 Years", showing a good guitar intro leading to smooth harmonies
  •  Live versions of "Poison & Wine" and "Tip of My Tongue"
  • A great cover of Sade's "No Ordinary Love".  The offering is fresh and smooth, crisp with Joy's voice and haunting with John's additions to vocals on refrains
  • "Dance Me to the End of Love" highlights the flow of Joy's and John's vocals holding the listener hostage in the rapture of this very emotional song
While Poison & Wine was released in 2009 and Live At Eddie's Attic has been offered for free download for months, these efforts offered only a taste of what is to come.  The Civil Wars current North American tour is leading into their first full length album, 'Barton Hollow' due out in February, 2001.  In The Civil Wars, Joy and John have bred great chemistry with a passion and pulse in each song performed.

SS Mertens

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