The Civil Wars, a Nashville Americana band formed in 2008, and composed of country/rock singer and songwriter John Paul White, and Joy Williams, who started out as a contemporary Christian singer in her teens, before moving on to mainstream as adult songwriter.
They met at a songwriting workshop organised by a Nashville record label, and immediately gelled creatively, releasing their first single as The Civil Wars in 2009, and their first studio album Barton Hollow in 2011. They were immediately successful, touring with Taylor Swift and writing a song for the Hunger Games soundtrack with her, winning a Grammy for it. Barton Hollow reached no 10 on the US official list and no 1 on Billboard Digital, Folk, and Rock charts. The album won two Grammies, and was certified gold in the US, UK, and Canada. They toured relentlessly for most of 2011 and 2012, until in November 2012 after a gig in the Roundhouse in London they canceled the rest of the tour without explanation, and never performed again together.
Their second album, The Civil Wars, was published in 2013 and debuted at no 1, ultimately winning them their fourth Grammy for best Country duo/group performance. They recorded parts of the album separately, and never came back together to promote it. They announced their formal breakup in 2014, releasing a free download of the song You’re my sunshine as their parting gift for fans.
After the breakup of The Civil Wars, John Paul White has released to albums, Beulah in 2016 and The Hurting Kind in 2019. Joy Williams’ first solo album post The CW, Venus, was published in 2015; a stylistic departure, it received mixed reviews. Her second solo album, The Front Porch, was nominated for the Best folk album Grammy.
Where to listen:
Available as a CD, and on all the usual streaming platforms. If you’re lucky, you might find vinyl wherever vinyl is sold.
Try Lewis & Leigh, indie folk band made up of American Alva Leigh and Welsh Al Lewis, who similarly went their separate ways soon after releasing their debut album.
Listen to key tracks on the Album Club playlist
Album Club rules:
At least once, listen to the current album as the artist intended: at one go, in the original track order. If you want to be all 1990s audiophile about it, do it sitting in a comfy chair with eyes closed.
Listen with intent.
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