The singer opens up about how she found her sound going solo – and how the Civil Wars' breakup took a toll on her marriage
Credit: Ben Gabbe/Getty

As Joy Williams prepares to release her first solo album after her indie darling band The Civil Wars split in 2013, she reveals she found help in rediscovering her voice from a very unlikely source: Justin Timberlake.

“His invisible fingerprints are on this album,” Williams – whose album Venus drops June 29 – tells Medium’s Cuepoint, noting the former boy bander introduced her to his Mickey Mouse Club buddy Matt Morris, who ended up co-writing and producing most of her album.

“Justin and I met back in 2011 when we were both on Letterman. Over the years, we’ve kept up with each other and become friends. He was a good sounding board.”

While Williams is proud of her new record, it took a while to get to that point. She and former bandmate John Paul White had quite history as a creative duo, performing together for six years and picking up four Grammys along the way.

After her band crumbled, her marriage to music manager husband Nate Yetton almost did, too.

“Nate and I had hit a glass ceiling. In life, everybody hits a glass ceiling. What you do next is what’s important. I think this is a really honest space that people will relate to and it’s exactly what happened in my marriage,” Williams says. “We just got to a point where we stared at each other and both thought: ‘What have we become? How were we this close and how did we get that far apart?’ ”

The pair took some time to reconnect, putting the pieces back together by starting over and moving to California with son Miles, 3 this month.

“Starting over with Nate in our new home by the ocean, we really needed that … We were so intent on building a life together that we somehow started missing each other along the way. We weren’t connecting anymore. It left us with a choice: give up, redefine the relationship, or fake it,” she explains. “Neither Nate nor I wanted to fake it.

Williams adds, “We had a long road back to each other, but I’m really glad we decided to take it.”