Charles Wesley Godwin
with Wyatt Flores
A native of West Virginia, Charles Wesley Godwin makes cinematic country-folk that's as gorgeous
and ruggedly raw as his homeland. It's Appalachian Americana, rooted in Godwin's sharp
songwriting and backwoods baritone. With 2021's How the Mighty Fall, he trades the
autobiographical lyrics that filled Seneca — his acclaimed debut, released in 2019 and celebrated by
everyone from Rolling Stone to NPR's Mountain Stage — for a collection of character-driven songs
about mortality, hope, and regret, putting an intimate spin on the universal concerns we all share.
"I started a family around the time Seneca came out," he remembers. "After my son was born,
I remember sitting in the hospital, thinking about how that very experience would eventually
become one of those life moments that flash before my eyes when I'm old. I realized that time
is passing, and my time will pass, too. Becoming a father made it all sink in."
Those realizations quickly found their way into his writing. If Seneca painted the picture of a southern
son in the middle of American coal country, then How the Mighty Fall — produced once again by Al
Torrence — zooms out to focus on wider themes of time, transience, and the choices we make.
Songs like "Strong" "Bones" and "Blood Feud" are roadhouse roots-rockers, driven forward by fiery
fiddle, lap steel and plenty of electric guitar. Godwin does most of his painting with more subtle
shades, though, often waiting until How the Mighty Fall'ssofter moments to make his biggest impact.
On "Cranes of Potter," he delivers a murder ballad with finger-plucked acoustic guitar and elegiac
melodies, unspooling the narrative with a storyteller's restraint. Meanwhile, "Temporary Town" finds
him returning to West Virginia after spending five years in the midwest, celebrating his homecoming
not with barely-contained enthusiasm, but with measured excitement, light percussion, and a
"I try to write with a sense of place," he explains. "Up until now, that setting has always been my
home, but I don't think this new album is as locally-focused as my previous release. I hope these
songs will connect with people wherever they live."
The son of a coal miner father and a schoolteacher mother, Godwin began forging those musical
connections in 2013, while studying abroad in Estonia. He'd learned the acoustic guitar several
years earlier, looking for a diversion after failing to secure a spot on the West Virginia University
football team. Halfway across the world in Estonia, he started strumming songs in his apartment,
summoning the sights and sounds of West Virginia for a group of new friends who'd never laid eyes
on the state. Fans were made, gigs were booked, and Godwin launched his full-time music career
shortly after graduation.
Marriage soon took him to Ohio, where his wife worked as a fundraiser. Even so, West Virginia
remained at the forefront of Godwin's mind, and he saluted the area's influence with his 2019 debut.
Seneca was a hit, with Billboard praising the album's "the vivid language and scenic ambience," and
Rolling Stone enthusing, "His voice, with its tight, old-world vibrato, is perfect." Godwin hit the road in
support of its release, touring domestically one minute and selling out shows in European
destinations like Stockholm the next. When the global pandemic brought his touring to a halt, he set
his sights on How the Mighty Fall, creating the album during a period that also witnessed the arrival
of his son and the migration of his growing family back to West Virginia.
Charles Wesley Godwin has never been afraid to blur the lines, and How the Mighty Fall proudly
straddles the borderlands between several genres. It's a country album by an Appalachian-borne
folk singer and blue-collar believer, laced with enough electricity to satisfy the Saturday night
revelers and enough scaled-down acoustic balladry to soundtrack the slow, gentle pace of Sunday
morning. For every "Lyin' Low" — a driving folk anthem, its larger-than-life melodies flanked by banjo
— there's a softly sweeping song like "Lost Without You," which finds Godwin's voice echoing
between stretches of pedal steel and symphonic strings. This is music for campfires and car rides,
for pool halls and mountain peaks, for big-city diehards and small-town loyalists. It's Charles Wesley
Godwin at his best, diving into character studies and richly-created fiction while still offering glimpses
of the man behind the music.
Performer LinksOfficial WebsiteFacebook
- Thu, July 20, 2023
- The Showbox
- 8:30 PM
- 21 & Over
- Buy Tickets