Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Beginning of the End of The Civil Wars? Or the End of the Beginning?

Some sudden and shocking news to come out of the music world today as we kick off the next 100 pieces of Americana Review, with word that The Civil Wars have cancelled their remaining tour appearances due to "internal discord and irreconcilible differences of ambition", as reported on their Facebook page. 

This news comes as such a shock for many reasons.  First and foremost, the duo have achieved a rare feat in acquiring a gold record certification for their debut album "Barton Hollow.  Equally as important, they were recently honored as the Vocal Group or Duo of the Year at the Americana Music Association Awards this past October.  In accepting their award, there was no indication of any internal strife.  But as we all know, things can change in a hurry.

The one and most obvious change from their auspicious debut is the fact that Joy Williams is new mother.  Embarking on a European tour can be a challenge for anyone, never mind a new mom who is leaving her baby for what can be speculated as the first time.  Perhaps the dream of a life on the road may have changed a bit for John Paul White.  Or, perhaps it was the obvious pressure that was on the band to come up with a record as compelling and original as their debut, which would be a monumental challenge.  Not insurmountable mind you, but a great challenge nonetheless.  Other reasons I've seen today hinted that the difficulties may not even be between Williams and White, but between The Civil Wars and their record label and/or management.  There is no shortage of speculation on the web as to what has happened here, and of course, anything I've written in the above paragraph is just that as well -- speculation.

Whatever the reason, I do hope The Civil Wars can take the time out they clearly need to reflect and recharge, and ultimately decide their future on their own.  They are two giftedly talented individuals, of that there is no question.  In my mind, they are the most original sounding duo to have arrived on the music scene in a generation.  There is no one that sounds like them.  In reading a blog post from earlier today, an audience member at what has now turned out to be the duo's last concert performance, in London, England, said that while the group performed, they did not look happy about doing so. If that is the case, then this is a real shame.  Watching The Civil Wars perform on stage is what makes them special.  The chemistry that exists between the two while performing is one of the most beautiful and special things I have ever witnessed in music.  Fans can take some solace in the fact that the Facebook posting also included word that the band may have new music in 2013.

However, if that chemistry is in fact gone, then the best thing they can do is call it quits now and leave us with their wonderful, but brief, period of work.   Hard as it may be, it would be the best thing for the group and their fans.

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