The Civil Wars, a duo composed of singer and songwriter Joy Williams and her singing and songwriting partner John Paul White, rose to fame thanks to a successful freshman album and a single called “Safe and Sound,” a collaboration with Taylor Swift for The Hunger Games soundtrack that led to further fame and prominence. In November of 2012, The Civil Wars claimed they were going on hiatus mid-tour. Despite this, and despite Williams spending time with her one-year-old son, The Civil Wars is releasing new music, and soon.
Fans have known a new album was coming ever since The Civil Wars dropped the group’s latest single, “The One That Got Away,” a song about loss, feelings, and deteriorating relationships. The song mirrors the problems Williams and White began to have after hitting the road in support of Barton Hollow, a tour that would eventually be cancelled. At the time, White and Williams cited “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition” as the reason for cancelling dates. Regardless, the duo also promised new music and now fans are tantalizingly close to getting more songs like “The One That Got Away.”
At the time the single was released, The Civil Wars announced the duo’s sophomore album would be self-titled and would be released on August 6. Williams recently spoke with AP writer Chris Talbott to talk about the fact that she and White are no longer speaking to one another and that the album really serves to highlight the deterioration of a collaboration that was worth its weight in gold (seriously, Barton Hollow received RIAA Gold certification).
"This album chronicles loss and regret and anger and victory and sweetness and loyalty and I hope that people get the chance to listen to it. What I've noticed is people may be curious about it, but once they listen to it, they are hooked. ... It's so honest and it's so rich and, not to toot my own horn, I'm just really proud of what we created together. And we created it together — we just happened to be in a bit of a civil war ourselves."
Currently, Williams won’t even speculate on whether or not she and White will ever be able to make it back into the studio to collaborate in the future. The good news is that the duo has bought themselves a little time to make that decision with The Civil Wars. As of August 6, the group’s fanbase will have twelve brand new tracks to listen to, and with a little luck, the album will do just as well as its predecessor.
There have been plenty of situations in the past where bands have been unable to get along and have broken up, looking to other music projects and artistic outlets, instead. Sometimes, however, even if a group has trouble getting along, they can learn to overcome differences and continue producing new music. Only time will tell whether The Civil Wars will prove to be closer to the former or the latter, but until then, at least we have new music to look forward to.