Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War

Various Artists

Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War

An array of county, folk, and Americana talents come together to interpret songs from the Civil War era on this inspired 32-track release. Divided & United treats these tunes as vital, emotion-charged works rather than museum pieces. The arrangements are rooted in the folk and popular music of the mid–19th century, favoring fiddles, banjos, and guitars (though A.A. Bondy’s rendition of “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” takes a left turn into electronica). The performances are consistently strong, bringing out the material's pathos, wry humor, and defiant spirit. Loretta Lynn’s tender reading of “Take Your Gun and Go, John,” Vince Gill’s aching take of “Dear Old Flag," and T Bone Burnett’s elegiac version of “The Battle of Antietam” are balanced by joyful expressions like The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ “Day of Liberty” and Pokey LaFarge’s “Kingdom Come.” The unexpectedly subdued treatment of “Dixie” by Karen Elson & The Secret Sisters is outstanding, as is the gleefully ragged rendition of “The Fall of Charleston” by Shovels & Rope. Dr. Ralph Stanley and Cowboy Jack Clement bring patriarchal wisdom to “The Vacant Chair” and “Beautiful Dreamer.”

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Disc 2

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