Are The Civil Wars the Lady Antebellum it’s ok to like, or a soft focus version of roots rivalists Gillian Welch and David Rawlings? There’s certainly something of Lady A’s marshmellow-centred country and maybe a touch of Welch and Rawling’s more brittle sound to this debut album from the Nashville duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White. However, they lack the former’s tunefulness and the latter’s grit and talent for memorable stories and lyrics. I’ve Got This Friend makes a pretty, well-embrodiered start and the overlapping vocals on C’est La Mort are appealing but a lachyromose mood sets in and the tone goes from pastel to utterly beige very quickly. When the title track strikes up a bold and almost foreboding atmosphere (chains a rattlin’ and a massive acoustic riff) Williams and White do scare the horses (kinda apologetically), instrumental The Violet Hour makes a stab at sinister but sounds sleepy, and spare us the homely clichés of Forget Me Not. Destined for hugeness maybe but not necessarily greatness.

Alan Corr