Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War

Before YouTube, history was preserved in books, periodicals and even songs. So for the sprawling, ambitious two-disc collection Divided & United, artists from country, bluegrass, folk and rock have been assembled to sing songs from both the Union and Confederate sides of the American Civil War.

Loretta Lynn leads things off with the somber, fiddle-and-banjo-driven “Take Your Gun and Go, John,” sung from the perspective of a woman whose husband is heading into battle.

There are also offerings from Vince Gill (“Dear Old Flag”), Lee Ann Womack (“The Legend of the Rebel Soldier”), Ashley Monroe (“Pretty Saro” with fiddler Aubrey Haynie), Jamey Johnson (“Rebel Soldier”) and many more.

Some selections, like Old Crow Medicine Show’s take on “Marching Through Georgia,” sound beamed in from a simpler time, while others, like Chris Stapleton’s hypnotic, intense “Two Brothers,” put the ages-old songs in more contemporary surroundings.

One thing’s for sure, though: This set proves that good storytelling never goes out of style.

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