Just recently picked up by Big Loud Records, (most famous for being Morgan Wallen’s record label), Charles Wesley Godwin is on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream. His success is no surprise to keen independent country fans. Since his debut album, Seneca, in 2019, many have recognized the West Virginian as one of the best voices in the genre. His wholly unique, powerful vocals coupled with his fantastic writing ability make him one of the most exciting artists working in country today.
In my opinion, here are five of the best tracks Godwin has to offer so far.
5. Half a Heart
Half a Heart showcases Godwin’s sensitive, caring side on this acoustic track. The song, depicting a woman ruined by past relationships and hardships, is a simply gorgeous one. From the first line of the first verse, you get a feel for Godwin’s lyrical brilliance.
“She’s just a girl born in stormy weather
Her heart, a victim of the wreckage left behind”
He builds the song around the feelings of uncertainty and past trauma in relationships. The final line in the chorus perfectly encapsulates someone who has been broken down by the past.
” ‘Cause I’ve only half a heart to break
So be gentle when you let me down”
4. How the Mighty Fall
The closing track off of Godwin’s sophomore record, also titled How The Mighty Fall, simply feels timeless. Godwin plays with the concept of the mighty falling and likens it to conceit, depicting a woman’s downward spiral due to her aging and loss of beauty.
“Oh my, oh my
How the might fall in time
Just tearing through the pages and losing your mind
‘Fore you know it you’ve reached your last line”
Godwin leaves a lot of the song’s meaning up to the listeners’ interpretation. However, he brilliantly gives just enough details about the woman and creates just enough imagery to give the track the perfect amount of interpretability.
Godwin is quickly putting together some of the most interesting narrative-based songs around; Jesse is no exception to this. The song depicts the story of a messy breakup through the point of view of an unknown third party. Godwin, the narrator, is seemingly omnipresent, building a sense of intrigue and wonder of who he truly is in relation to Jesse and the woman. It’s very clear that he knows the scorned woman and Jesse with the chorus reading:
“Jesse don’t hear you and neither do I
When you’re cryin’ at the heavens with wool-covered eyes
You made that bed now you can sleep tight
Oh Jesse don’t hear you and neither do I“
However, it’s never clear how or why the narrator knows so much about the couple. Jesse is another brilliantly crafted song from Godwin and co-writer, Zach McCord that can be interpreted in multiple different ways.
2. Seneca Creek
Simply put, Seneca Creek is a stunner. Arguably one of the greatest love songs and narrative songs ever written, the track depicts a love between Ruth and RC Phares. Seneca Creek depicts them building themselves a family, farm and life on the creek. Godwin packs the track with small details and struggles faced by the pair throughout their lives. He depicts the Korean War killing men in the town, floods ruining the land and RC eventually losing Ruth to a sickness in ’94.
Godwin depicts RC reflecting on everything he and Ruth built throughout the song in a beautiful final chorus.
“We built a home by Seneca Creek and raised ourselves a family
I worked on the farm, you worked the store
We had everything we’d ever hoped for
With the top of a mountain above our heads and the roar of Seneca by the bed
The sheer amount of storytelling present in this five-and-a-half-minute song is simply jaw-dropping. Seneca Creek is a wholly cinematic song that begs a talented filmmaker to adapt it to film.
1. Cranes of Potter
There are very few songs that actively induce chills; however, Cranes of Potter is certainly one of those songs. Godwin creates a post-Civil War world in which a promiscuous mayor’s daughter, Claire, finds herself caught up in a love triangle. Claire, unfortunately, is preyed upon by the town’s lunatic, Jeremiah. Jeremiah eventually kills Claire in a jealous rage and is hanged as punishment.
Godwin ends Cranes of Potter with a powerful epilogue to the story in the final chorus.
“We never found that girl from Potter, who’d so often wander
Till more than a century later a builder found her in the ground
Beneath the cranes of Potter, where Jeremiah shot her
There lies the mayor’s daughter, two feet down
Beneath the cranes of Potter, hair no longer blonder
Beneath the cranes of Potter, in her finest evening gown“
The song is just under four and a half minutes long; however, the world and characters Godwin created feel extremely lived-in. This beautiful song feels perfect, yet it also feels like it can be expanded upon extremely easily. Like Seneca Creek, Cranes of Potter also feels like it is the perfect song to adapt into a feature film.
Honorable Mentions: Temporary Town, Strawberry Queen, Harwood Floors, Needle Fall Down