Torn in two, Civil Wars lives up to name


AP Music Writer


There are still helium balloons clinging to the ceiling and new toys scattered across a table in the living room when Joy Williams answers the door. The Civil Wars singer recently found cream cheese icing in her hair, she notes with laughter, more remnants of her son Miles’ first birthday party the night before.

It is one of the happiest times for Williams, but as is often the case with life, it’s also one of the most difficult. Over the next hour, Williams will laugh and cry and express a range of emotions from pride to fear and hope as she talks about the status of her Grammy Award-winning duo with John Paul White and their new self-titled second album. The group is officially on hiatus even as a single hits the airwaves and the album nears its Aug. 6 release date.

She is fiercely proud of the new music and can’t wait for everyone to hear it. But she knows she has to tell the story of how things fell apart before she can expect anyone to pay attention to the music.

“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,” Williams says as she sits at her kitchen table. “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.”

The last we heard from The Civil Wars, they were ending a European tour in abrupt and unexpected fashion, issuing an unusually honest news release that attributed the decision to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” Williams says eight months later she and White aren’t speaking, but she hopes time will bring them back together to perform the new music live. There are currently no plans for them to tour together, however.

In her first interview since the decision to come off the road, Williams says the hiatus is meant to be “a deep breath of ‘What’s next?’” and inhales in search of a moment’s serenity. She hopes in time there will be healing and friendship and collaboration again.

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