Record Of The Week # 123

Charles Wesley Godwin – How The Mighty Fall

After considerable critical acclaim for his 2019 release Seneca could Godwin come up with the goods again? The news is affirmative. Charles Wesley Godwin has a distinct voice that holds a tune with a a slightly tremulous effect adding warmth and expressiveness, some interesting story telling and melodies that he describes as Appalachian country/Americana. Godwin hails from West Virginia: a relatively poor and rural part of the eastern USA and the striving and rustic settings abound.

“Jesse” was inspired from some graffiti he saw whilst out for a jog. On a bridge support he read “Are you thinking of me like I’m thinking of you?” This stimulated his imagination to create a character who’s regretting their parting knowing the other’s moved on. Starting with acoustic guitar chords a picked banjo joins and it builds with pedal steel, strings and eventually the band. This is a voice that can carry the melody by itself but a restrained, yet full arrangement, makes this memorable and beautiful.  

If “Jesse “was troubled then “Strong” finds another person, but this time with money challenges. With a faster upbeat rhythm of galloping snares and some insistent fiddles, Godwin sees some sunny uplands ahead and “I can see you coming round the bend / Kicking until the end / Like Prefontaine / From and outside lane.” Stirring stuff. Some comparisons have been drawn about his sound to Tyler Childers and this is most evident on “Lyn’ Low” where you will make a double take. The setting, instrumentation and setting for the stories help you complete the association.

“Cranes of Potter” illustrates his thoughtful storytelling process. Driving near the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line he notes a new chemical plant being built. In its construction as they broke the ground they found a body in a shallow grave 150 years old. Godwin creates a dark acoustic ballad about the murder of a beautiful woman who resisted the unwanted advances of a man who hanged for his crime. 

In a recent interview with Jack Barksdale he’s asked about his long term ambitions: he modestly wants to provide a comfortable living for his family and band. Coupled to the fact that this is an independent release then the everyday struggle to get ahead is apparent. You can only but admire the dedication to his art and not least his talent evidenced here.

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