#828: 2013, The Civil Wars, Devil’s Backbone

by Jackie_South on December 31, 2013

The last song posted in 2013 falls to me, one last chance to post a 2013 song during 2013. In this case, also a last chance to (almost certainly futilely) lobby for the inclusion of an albums for George East’s best albums of the year post, likely to get posted tomorrow.

For whatever George’s verdict, the Civil Wars‘ second, and eponymous, album is to my mind one of the stand out albums of 2013. It is of course almost certainly the last Civil Wars album now that Joy Williams and John Paul White have apparently irrevocably fallen out.

Much of the music press coyly refers to the Civil Wars as ‘Americana’ or ‘Alternative Folk’, probably because ‘Country’ appears to be a bit of a dirty word nowadays. But Devil’s Backbone is a superb Country track in the very best sense: the stripped back music, the use of Appalachian instrumental sounds harking back to Ulster and Scottish folk, the tragic lyrics asking for divine intervention to resolve a broken heart. I love the beautifully soaring dueting “Oooooo” refrain, the contrast between the musical build to the fourth verse and the soft, almost unaccompanied final verse.

Simply perfect. If there was a God, how could he ever turn down a voice like Williams’?

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