Review: The Civil Wars’ new haunting single ‘The One That Got Away’

The Civil Wars are no more as an ongoing concern, but the co-ed, Grammy-winning duo has left us a lovely parting gift in one last album, a self-titled sophomore set recorded before they split up last November over “irreconcilable differences of ambition.”. The album comes out Aug. 6 via Sensibility Music/Columbia Records.

The first single, “The One That Got Away,” released today, is a haunting regretful, cautionary tale.

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“Oh, I wish I had never ever seen your face, I wish you were the one that got away…  I miss the way you wanted me when I was staying just out of your reach,” Joy Williams mournfully sings over very sparse, but dramatic acoustic instrumentation, including mandolin. Musically, “The One That Got Away” sounds more like “Safe & Sound,” the pair”s collaboration with Taylor Swift for “The Hunger Games,” but with a greater sense of dread, than the wistful, sad “Poison & Wine” or menacing stomp of “Barton Hollow.”

John Paul White”s intentionally lo-fi harmonies increase the feeling of doom and entrapment. His voice is present, but very much in the background, as this is Williams” hell to sort out.

The visual of a rising smoke plume from an explosion says it all, but even without that, there”s no escaping the claustrophobic, closed-in feel brought on by one”s own bad choices.

Be careful what you wish for.