“I’ll be playing some new stuff, if that’s okay with y’all,” John Paul White told his audience at the Bluebird last night. Enthusiastic cheers and applause rippled through the crowd, indicating that those in attendance were ready to look beyond White's past achievements.
White, half of Grammy-winning duo the Civil Wars, has been touring in anticipation of his new solo album, Beulah. Set for release on August 19, it's the first solo release of White's in almost a decade. He was dressed in a suit and tie last night, and you could send his excitement to once again be sharing new music with fans.
“I’ll keep playing the happy up-tempo songs." White said. "That’s what you expect at a John Paul White show, right?” A member from the audience promptly replied with a “No,” and laughter followed. While a lot of White’s songs carried a somber, nostalgic tone, he did balance the evening by playing a few more upbeat tunes that featured thunderous drumbeats and dynamic keys. “Thank you all for being as sad as I am,” White joked as he transitioned from faster-paced songs like “The Martyr” to the more mellow “Make You Cry.”
Over the course of the evening, White played every track from the upcoming album. In between, he explained to the audience that he has been busy being a dad and a partner. While loving every minute of going to dance recitals and baseball games for his kids, he says, he also remained busy creatively. He couldn't wait to see what people thought of this new batch of songs, explaining that this tour is all about gauging his audience’s reactions. “As soon as I wrote them, I couldn’t stop thinking of what you would think of them,” White said between songs. “If they’d move you, and if you’d connect with them, and if I’d then connect with you.”
After joking that he may have been quiet for too long and people could have lost interest, he again expressed his gratitude for all the fans that showed up to listen. “I tend to write songs in a vague way,” White explained. “So they’re not specific to just me, so you can step into it and become your own character in the song and live it vicariously in your own life.”
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There was a near-omnipresent dialogue between White and members of the audience, both while he was laughing with them about his “rapping ability” and when he was playing a new song. The Bluebird was full of enthusiastic fans, quick to laugh at White’s jokes and respond to his rhetorical questions. “Y’all are steadily becoming my favorite crowd,” White said.