The Civil Wars are a folk duo that has great range, even if their work is very simplistic. They could play anything and excel. But they've chosen folk and done a wonderful job with it. Joy Williams has an undeniably beautiful voice, complemented wonderfully by John Paul White's grittier vocals and guitar work. The music isn't complex but it still packs a punch. Word on the street is that they've broken up - I'm not sure if that's as a band or a couple? - but if that's true, that's unfortunate, but they would certainly be ending on a high note. And then they become one of those legendary duo's that kept it short and simple and in my book, could do no wrong... not a bad thing. (Although I would be overjoyed if it was all just a myth and we have more to look forward to instead!)
Although I do enjoy the softer side of folk, my personal favorites have a rock edge to them. "Barton Hallow" from the album of the same name certainly fits in that camp (see also "I Had Me a Girl" from The Civil Wars). If you like it a bit more mellow then check out "To Whom It May Concern" and "The One That Got Away" (probably their most popular single; and I would say that was a good choice. I don't think it's my favorite, but damn, if it doesn't get stuck in my head. I'll sing that sucker for days after hearing it.)
Oh! And I can't forget -- "Billy Jean". And you're like, wha? The Michael Jackson song? YES. And they kickass. I'm usually on the fence about covers. Even if I like them, I still prefer the original in most cases. But this time, I think they did better than MJ. I did not make this decision swiftly or take it lightly, but I stand by it. Considering the appearance on songs appearance on both their LP Barton H0llow and the EP Between the Bars, I think they know they did a damn good job too.
"Poison & Wine"