Captivating melancholia on debut album from Scandicana duo.
For a band whose recorded output amounted to just two LPs and a handful of EPs, The Civil Wars’ influence on artists who came after them is somewhat remarkable. Witness ‘Cold War’, the debut album from Swedish wife and husband duo, Lakely, which bears the same hallmarks of tenderness and beauty that made ‘Barton Hollow’ an instant classic on its release in 2012.
Written on the front porch of a log cabin in the north of Sweden following a year-long stay in Nashville, ‘Cold War’ is a beautifully crafted record, powerfully evoking the environment which inspired it. From mist on the water, fields of gold under skies of blue or the creeping cold at the end of summer, the power of imagery in Lakely’s lyrics is transformative.
But there is more to these songs than literal depiction. Here we find stories of pain and fear (‘Iron Curtain’), joy and love (‘Feels Like I’ve Never Felt This Way Before’) and impending disaster (‘Hindenburg’) brought to life and made clearer by the world which bore them. This is perhaps most striking on the title track, ‘Cold War’, which masterfully entwines the cold and bitterness of winter with the loss of love and friendship, all set to a mournful pedal steel and mandolin infused soundtrack.
Like The Civil Wars before them, there is a significant nod towards those whose work they draw upon for inspiration, notably Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss and Neil Young (“you would rather burn than fade away, but hey”). And much like ‘Barton Hollow’ continues to inspire new takes on the Americana genre, expect ‘Cold War’ to remain relevant beyond its release.