But Williams and White haven’t spoken since cutting the record over a two-week session last September. At this point, Williams doesn’t have an answer to that either, but she is hopeful, and ready to talk reconciliation.
And with the album locked and loaded, and a growing worldwide following of fans eager to consume it, resolution still seems a ways off for the estranged duo. “If John Paul and I can find a place to meet in the middle, I believe that there could be a future for the band,” she explains. I would be open to trying to mend the bridges that I think we both burned. It takes two.”White, who lives with his wife and kids in rural northern Alabama, near Muscle Shoals, has pulled a J. Salinger, keeping quiet about the new album’s upcoming release and the band’s uncertain status.
Joy Williams woke up with morning sickness on the biggest day of her career so far, February 12th, 2012.
Two days earlier, she’d announced she was pregnant with her first child, and that night she was due to appear at the Grammys, where, as one-half of folk-rock duo the Civil Wars, she’d perform alongside soon-to-be-estranged bandmate John Paul White.
Joy Williams and John Paul White’s final gig was at the Roundhouse in Camden, London, in 2012.
On-stage chat was frosty and they announced on Facebook almost as soon as the gig was over that they had cancelled their tour, citing “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition”.
“You can’t have that much tension without something changing and it did,” she says when we meet at a private members’ club in London.
“That intensity – I don’t think was sustainable.” When she’s talking about the break-up she mutters under her breath “only speak for me”, a mantra reminding herself not to complain about her former partner.
White was unfailingly diplomatic at the time but now looks only to the future.
It’s definitely an honor but I don’t carry that card around and show it to people.” There’s that Southern charm again.
White received those awards as half of the Civil Wars, alongside vocalist Joy Williams.
“I am 100,000 percent focused on this project, my family, the record label, and the studio. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this at all anymore so it’s interesting that it has become so rich.” From his Jeff Buckley-style runs at the end of “Hope I Die” to the gritty yelps on the barnstorming “Fight for You,” he sounds unleashed. The schedules wouldn’t line up, so I hired a fiddle player from Lafayette and a guitar player from Tuscaloosa.
The ensemble playing is nuanced and in-the-pocket, just what you’d expect from a crew of Muscle Shoals ringers. They sing those parts, but now I have less weight on my shoulders.
She is married to Nate, and is expecting her first child in June.