Just over a year ago, The Civil Wars, the folk duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White, were seemingly on top of the world. Earlier in the year, they had just won a Grammy for their wildly successful debut record Barton Hollow, with countless other nominations at other major awards shows. They have performed at the White House and were one of the sub-headliners of major festival such as Sasquatch and Bonnaroo. And they collaborated with mega-star Taylor Swift for the lead song of one of the biggest movies of the year in The Hunger Games. When they won the Academy Award for best song for Safe and Sound, the said soundtrack song, all seems right in the world for The Civil Wars.
But during the awarding for Safe and Sound, something seems amiss. White seems distant and amiss. And while Williams was ecstatic and happy, she was only hugging Swift and never interacted with White. And then during their winter tour late in the year, The Civil Wars abruptly canceled their tour and announced that the band was taking an indefinite hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition”. Have The Civil Wars broken up? And why? Speculation was wild and rampant. Have the rigors of touring gotten to them? And has the undeniable (even romantic) chemistry between Williams and White during their performances affected their significant others? (Both Williams and White are happily married to other people and Williams was even pregnant during the winter tour). Either way, it seems success has gotten to The Civil Wars.
So when The Civil Wars announced their eponymous sophomore record, people were curious. What really happened to the band? Are they still going to continue to perform together? For their part, The Civil Wars have said that they will let the album speak for itself and that you could infer from the songs what happened. And no, they will not be touring in support of the new record.
Which is a shame, cause their self-titled second record is a beautiful, intimate album that deserves to be heard live. It has the same chills-inducing, lovingly-layered, boy-girl tension-filled songs as the first record. In a sense, the songs even feel deeper, more graceful, and more emotional. There is a lot of sadness and regret in the new songs, which I guess mirrors the trials and tribulations that Williams and White are going though. I really hope that The Civil Wars continue through. There need to be more songs from Williams and White together. For now, we can only hope for the best.
Watch the studio-cut video for first single The One That Got Away embedded below.
The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars come out 8/6 via Sensibility Music (order here)