When Joy Williams sat down to work on material for her new album, she had a bit of an epiphany. “I remember saying, whatever this project is, if I can’t play it on a front porch, it’s probably not for me,” Williams told Rolling Stone this past April. With the assistance of producer Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids and engineer Matt Ross-Spang, Williams made an album, aptly titled Front Porch (due May 3rd on Sensibility/Thirty Tigers), that could be just that — music carried by primarily acoustic instruments and her ethereal, uniquely expressive voice, with nary a drum in sight. On Thursday, Williams released the title track, a song about how time can pass and people can drift and change, but you can always come back home.
Williams wrote “Front Porch” alongside Liz Rose and Emily Shackelton, and it was Rose’s urging that made the Nashville-based singer-songwriter consider spelling out the front porch experience so explicitly. “They are epic songwriters,” Williams said. “And Liz [Rose] asked me, ‘tell me you have a song called ‘Front Porch?’ When I told her no, she said, ‘how many times have you said this about the front porch, and no one has picked up on writing a song called ‘Front Porch?'”
Pregnant at the time with her second child, Williams and Rose came up with “Front Porch,” a song that traces several steps of Williams’ own homecoming: back to Nashville after living in Los Angeles for a stint, and to simple acoustic music after venturing into textural pop on 2015’s Venus. “There are no wrong roads,” she sings alongside some graceful fingerpicking on the guitar.
“This record feels like breathing more deeply into who I am,” Williams said. “With [previous duo] the Civil Wars, there was a bit of an act that got clapped for. But instead of playing with a female archetype, now I just get to be myself.”
Front Porch, which includes previously released songs “Canary” and “The Trouble With Wanting,” features collaborations with songwriters like Caitlyn Smith, Natalie Hemby and Thad Cockrell. Williams will embark on a headlining tour to support the album beginning in February with stops at Los Angeles’ Troubadour and New York’s Bowery Ballroom.
“When you show up, you can let yourself be you as I am letting myself be me,” she says. “Front porch. Shoes off.”
Joy Williams – Front Porch track list:
- “Front Porch”
- “When Does a Heart Move On”
- “All I Need”
- “The Trouble With Wanting”
- “No Place Like You”
- “One and Only”
- “When Creation Was Young”
- “Preacher’s Daughter”
- “Hotel St. Cecilia”
- “Be With You”
- “Look How Far We’ve Come”