John Paul White indulged his love of vintage country on his new, second solo album. (Courtesy Alysse Gafkjen)

John Paul White indulged his love of vintage country on his new, second solo album. (Courtesy Alysse Gafkjen)

John Paul White revives countrypolitan

Ex-Civil Wars artist collaborates with songwriting heroes on new album

Not too long ago, ex-Civil Wars vocalist John Paul White, appearing at The Chapel this weekend with his new solo album “The Hurting Kind,” found himself listening to countrypolitan records in his Florence, Ala. homestead.

The short-lived sound, an urbane Nashville spinoff from the late 1960s and early ‘70s that revolved around and relied on gentle orchestration and the aloof crooning of key artists like Eddy Arnold, was a classy approach White hadn’t heard on the radio in decades.

He marveled at the subliminal authority of Jim Reeves, flatly informing an unfaithful lover about her third wheel that “He’ll Have to Go.”

“Such cold, confident control he displayed on that warm-sounding song — you just don’t hear that nowadays,” he says.

He stopped pining for the genre and set out to write his own countrypolitan album. “The Hurting Kind,” his second solo outing, offers sophisticated, dinner-jacket songs such as “Yesterday’s Love,” with Little Mae, “This Isn’t Gonna End Well” with LeAnn Womack and “The Good Old Days.”

“I was looking for that sound everywhere, trying to hear it in a modern setting, and I’d worn out all my old records,” says the Grammy winner. “And I finally started thinking, ‘This is what is pleasing you. This is what’s in your veins right now. This is something you should follow.’”

Shrewdly, he borrowed his publishing company’s Rolodex and began tracking down his heroes. “And then I just soaked it all up,” he adds.

It started as a simple fact-finding experiment, finding the vintage countrypolitan composers who were alive and working.

It turns out there were a lot more than he suspected who were fans of The Civil Wars, his Southern Gothic duo with Joy Williams, which disbanded acrimoniously in 2014.

With his first call he hit paydirt. The legendary Bill Anderson regaled him with tall tales of the Marty Robbins and Roger Miller era, then invited him to his Bill Anderson Room at Music Row’s posh Sony Studios for writing sessions, leading to three finished cuts.

The next contact was the prolific Bobby Braddock, who doubled as Robbins’ keyboardist.

White’s coolest coup was luring reclusive Whitey Shafer back into the studio again after a disgruntled decade to conceive “I’m Never Gonna Fall In Love Again,” which didn’t make the album.

“It was the only song we wrote, and then he passed away,” he says. “But I actually got to sing it at his memorial, which was really hard with all those serious songwriters sitting there. But it was quite the honor.”

IF YOU GO

John Paul White

Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. June 16

Tickets: $20 to $22

Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.eventbrite.com

Pop Music

Just Posted

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power: Closures and updates

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Most Read