Joy Williams and John Paul White were the singer/songwriter duo known as The Civil Wars. After hearing the subtle, spine-tingling harmony in the first recording below, I went on the hunt for more. Although they won four Grammys between 2012 and 2014, I still wasn’t acquainted with their work, so getting to listen to them for the first time was thrilling.
There’s something so unique about the incredible control they both have over their voices. In each of the songs I’ve heard, they play a lot with volume. There are moments when the harmonies are bold and crystal clear, and at other times, one or the other will practically whisper their notes. I found myself keeping perfectly still and leaning closer so I didn’t miss a thing.
I was very disappointed to learn the pair doesn’t perform together anymore. In fact, they reportedly haven’t spoken since 2012. I shouldn’t be surprised. The signs were there. Sporting song titles like “I Wish You Were the One Who Got Away,” their lyrics read like impending relationship doom.
“I wish you’d hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you
I don’t love you, but I always will…” – The Civil Wars, Poison & Wine
Even the duo’s professional photos never show both of them looking at the camera at the same time. They made beautiful music, but I’m guessing there was a lot of hurt feelings and screaming and throwing things behind the scenes. That aura of unrest makes their tender musical moments that much more poignant for their fragility.
They are both reminding me of other people. He seems like a combination of Johnny Depp and T.J. Miller, and she’s giving me younger Dana Delany. It’s a little unsettling, honestly. And they keep sharing these moments that see fraught with… something. Can’t tell whether they were having an affair or they were just really, really close (in a volatile way). Whatever it was, it’s sure interesting to watch.
This is the song they recorded with Taylor Swift in 2011 for the “Hunger Games” soundtrack. How did I miss this?