This is an exciting project! ATO Records, co-founded by Dave Matthews and a division of RCA Records, assembled an impressive line-up to record Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War, featuring songs from both the North and the South. They also produced a superb short film to go along with it (see below).
The two-disc collection includes bluegrass legends (Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Ralph Stanley), country stars (Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton), a master of the blues (Taj Mahal), and some of the finest representatives of the newer generation (Carolina Chocolate Drops, Old Crow Medicine Show, Shovels & Rope, Ashley Monroe). As a result, the variety is outstanding, with each artist bringing their unique gifts to the recordings. Stand-out tracks for me are “Marching Through Georgia” by Old Crow Medicine Show, an uptempo number that starts slow, and “Dear Old Flag” by Vince Gill, sung as only Vince Gill could sing it. The funnest song on the album is “The Fall of Charleston” by Shovels & Rope, a brilliant husband-wife duo from Charleston, appropriately enough.
I noticed the album last year when it was released, but I have only now decided to listen through it. It’s a delight, assuming that you have an ear for this type of music. The short film that goes along with the album is also a delight. It is only 9 minutes long, in three parts: