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And the Grammy/Oscar goes to . . .

| April 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

It’s a phrase repeated often by the friends of Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, each of which took home their respective top prize. John Paul White & Joy Williams hope to add to that.

Already, the duo, recording as The Civil Wars, have won plaudits from VH1 and USA Today, along with impressive showings on the iTunes and Billboard charts for their debut, Barton Hollow. We admit a sort of deviousness, however, when mentioning the other pairs, because The Civil Wars’ music strikes dangerously familiar chords.

With Barton Hollow opener “20 Years,” the ear instinctively beckons the mouth to intone “Killing The Blues.” Hell, both the Plant/Krauss and Civil Wars cover shots are in black and white; Krauss and Williams part their hair the same way; and White might appear younger than Plant, but that doesn’t mean he looks less like a daguerreotype of a dead Band member (and that he’d like to kill someone, anyone). The Hansard/Irglova (a.k.a. Swell Season) comparison falls even closer, as the Plant/Krauss reliance on rhythm ultimately nullifies the match. Consecutive Barton tracks rely on an “I don’t know you/but I want to” infatuation, exactly the crux of the Oscar-winning track (originally recorded by Hansard’s Frames) “Falling Slowly.”

Certainly the Wars have done something right (dedicated Facebookers?) to gather such a following in such a crowded field. But this is unforgiving ground on which to build a career, something that doesn’t take care of itself no matter how you artificially age the photographs or populate them with Confederate generals. (Monday & Tuesday@Schubas with White Dress.)

Click here to download the free Live At Eddie’s EP.

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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