Charles Wesley Godwin is the country star we never knew we needed; a soot-stained storyteller giving new life to the country traditions of old.
Almost heaven, he paints a vivid image of Appalachia with his songs – his hardened, yet hopeful lyrics casting brilliant narratives of the complex coal country he was brought up in.
Arriving seemingly out of nowhere on a hit-riddled debut in 2019, the artist has since amassed a substantial following, one that's enamored with the no-frills songcraft that's carried on his intoxicating country-folk croon. His following releases have only further secured his place immediately among the greats.
Here are ten Holler-picked essentials from the budding Charles Wesley Godwin catalog.
First, get acquainted with the artist in ‘Coal Country’, an homage to his home that appeared on his debut album, Seneca.
The song is at first a delicately plucked dreamscape, casting hazy images of his native West Virginia, his blunt baritone soon cutting through the acoustics the way the Shenandoah River slices the Appalachian state.
From there, a bluegrass-textured tale unfolds, telling of the battered, but resilient.
Godwin has always adhered to the long-held country music tradition of storytelling, and boy has he got a story with ‘Blood Feud’.
From his 2021 release, How the Mighty Fall, the song takes off like a shot. Speeding along with the raucous country-rock arrangement, the artist barks out “I didn't leave my house dressed to die / Only one of us is gonna make it out alive tonight” as he spins a wild yarn.
Godwin’s live version of ‘The Jealous Kind,’ released on his 2023 EP Live from the Church, finds the singer coming into his own. He takes on the Chris Knight cover with an intoxicating power, paired with an unshakable confidence that can only come from experience.
From How the Mighty Fall comes ‘Strong’, a thumping comeback story that vibrates with a boot-stomping resilience.
Godwin’s voice – hearty with a lived-in wisdom – carries the tune, matching the song’s muscular arrangement.
“You're coming on strong,” he sings, unwavering, “I know your night's been long / But I can see you coming around the bend / And kicking until the end”.
‘Lyin’ Low’ gives off a seductive and deep holler sound, as Godwin illustrates his simple yet enviable way of life. It’s a tune imbued with a seize-the-day type of ethos, one that requires slowing down in order to truly take life in.
Against a simple arrangement, ‘Temporary Town’ comes to life with a profound pang. It is a gut-punch of a song that is, at the same time, throat-tightening and freeing.
A homesick but hope-filled Godwin is far from home and planning his escape on the tune, so he can “Make a piecе of heaven near somе old forgotten town / and let the world pass by 'til there's no turning around".
From a lonesome fiddle’s cry, ‘Seneca Creek’ is born, as is the storyteller in Godwin.
The song is a stark character sketch, one that paints a simple but stunning portrait of rural Appalachia and a couple working hard to build a life together.
Featured on Zach Bryan’s 2022 EP, Summertime Blues, Godwin joins his friend and frequent tourmate for the heart-wrenching narrative, ‘Jamie'.
The bleak round of storytelling finds the pair trading lines, depicting the aftermath of a love and life lost. “‘Cuz this life ain’t worth livin’ / If the love that you’ve been givin’ / Is taken before you are”, Godwin bellows along to the wailing arrangement.
“Well Jesse don't hear you and neither do I”, Godwin sings through a fog of steel strings. The biting tune, ‘Jesse', touches on regret, longing, and the beds we make and must lie in.
The lyrics are honest. Godwin doesn’t plead or bargain for things to be different, he instead offers up sage advice like “You walk this earth full of regret / You coulda killed that curse if you just confess".
A flurry of ferocious strums and loved-up lyrics make up Godwin’s ‘Hardwood Floors,’ a swoon-inducing fan favorite full of life and warmth.
Like being swept up in a thunderous waltz, the song is all at once an earnest assertion of love and an irresistible good time.
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