Joy Williams is in a happy place.
After her duo, The Civil Wars, parted ways, it was understandably heartbreaking. But now she’s on track to release her second full-length album, Front Porch, since the 2014 split. She premiered two tracks—“Canary” and “The Trouble with Wanting”—last year to lead up to the May 3 street date.
“It was the most joyful time in the studio ever in my life,” Williams says softly. “I think we recorded 15 songs in five days. It was the most effortless experience I had. I was three months-ish pregnant. I was just sitting on a stool, singing these songs in a Nashville studio. I think you can hear the joy and the ease and the musical magic that happened in those moments.”
Produced by Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids and engineered by Matt Ross-Spang, Front Porch represents a new chapter in Williams’ career.
“There is an energy that is very creative in having a baby,” she says. “It gives a sense of urgency on top of all the creative energy. Cellularly, your body is experiencing something really different. Everything you are feeling is elevated. And you have a time-stamped sense of urgency.
“So much of this is about coming home. Whether to a physical place or to yourself. The lines on my face, I can see them more clearly now. But a lot of them are laugh lines. This record feels like breathing more deeply into who I am. Come what may.”
Front Porch is an apropos title for the album, Williams says. It’s simple, yet complex, but definitely welcoming.
“It’s about returning to simplicity and returning to yourself and welcoming what is uncomfortable, messy, beautiful and what’s real,” she says.
“When we were doing shows prior to the holiday break, what I really loved was somehow everybody came and brought themselves to the show. We’d just be, and sit together as it were on this front porch. There’s laughter and tears; tears coming out of my eyes. It was a time to really be together and just welcome it all. People are really grateful. They’re enjoying the shows and telling their friends about it. It’s a feel-good moment and I want to keep going out.”
Williams will share these songs with her fans when she kicks off her tour 7 p.m. Monday, February 25, at the Musical Instrument Museum. On this jaunt, she is touring with her kids, Miles, 6 1/2, and Poppy, 5 months.
“I hope we’re growing great memories as a family,” she says. “It’s not easy for kids to be on the road. I don’t want them to grow up just on the road. But I want to make the most of it. Part of the rhythm of our lives is this colorful part of going to different cities and meeting new people. I’m opening the world to them.
“It’s totally a zoo, but it’s really fun showing Miles all the different parts and pockets of the country. I will say it is good and it is so challenging as any working parent can understand. I’m sleep deprived, but I love my kids and I’m forced as a working parent to work as smartly as I can. I want to show my kids what it looks like to do something I love, and set an example like that. For us to do that all together feels crazy; crazy and wonderful at the same time.”
Joy Williams w/Anthony DeCosta, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480.478.6000, mim.org, 7 p.m. Monday, February 25, $38.50-$48.50.