The West Virginia singer-songwriter gives C&I readers a sneak peek of his solo debut album, Seneca.
Singer-songwriter Charles Wesley Godwin captures his storied surroundings in his new solo debut album, Seneca, out February 15.
With a sound that can be described as Creedence Clearwater Revival meets Simon & Garfunkel, the West Virginia musician creates an honest and moving ode to his hometown, Morgantown.
Raised in the Appalachia, Godwin sets a vivid scene with his inviting, gripping vocals and melancholy lyrics, creating a story arc filled with love, laughter, and personal growth.
Album highlights include the wondrously insightful “Coal Country”; the romantic, fast-pickin’ “Hardwood Floors”; the beautifully spun “The Last Bite”; and the acoustic-driven “Half a Heart.”
"Back in June of 2016, I was almost halfway through my first year of playing music full time,” Godwin recalls. “I’d started playing shows with my band, Union Sound Treaty, pretty regularly by then. I was even getting a few solo gigs booked every now and then for some extra money.
“ The band and I had recorded what would be our debut album, Next Year, that March out of the first batch of songs that I'd written. I felt like I was starting to get my feet underneath me for the first time on the music side of things. My confidence had grown to where I truly believed that I was going to do this. I was starting to figure out my voice. I was here to stay. I could make a life playing music.
“In June, I wrote ‘Coal Country.’ I knew that it was a keeper. At the time, I figured it would be on the next Union Sound Treaty album, but by the middle of 2017, I knew the likelihood of it getting out through [the band] was slim to none. That's when I seriously started considering the idea of a solo album.”
Going forward, Godwin continued to write songs, “some keepers, others not.” Then in December of 2017, at the end of his year of touring, he headed into the studio to record.
“I went up to Al’s [Torrence] studio, Music Garden Studios, and tracked all week with Joe Pinchotti on drums. The snow fell heavy and deep that whole week. Looking back on those days, I just remember us working from early in the morning until late each night. To unwind, we'd all sit around a pizza, cracking up while watching Mike Judges’ Tales From the Tour Bus series.
“A couple of weeks later, after the holidays, I went back in to record all of the songs. I recorded into an old Telefunken microphone that had been passed down to Al through the purchase of his studio. I was set up by a big ol’ window looking out into the snowy, frozen streets of New Brighton, Pennsylvania.
“That week was freezing. If I remember right, the temperature had been down in the negatives for a week or more. Between takes, Al and I would pour boiling water down the pipes to keep them from freezing. When I got home after that week, I made a damn-near-boiling bath for myself. I was proud of the work that I’d done, and for the first time since the New Year, my bones thawed.”
The first part of 2018 was all about contacting and recording the musicians they wanted to play on the album. “By June, we’d rounded everyone up, gotten their parts recorded, and Al was able to start mixing. By September, we had the album mastered and finished. Seneca was finally ready to be let out into the world.”
At that point in time, Godwin says, he knew he’d made the best work he possibly could. “I feel like Seneca is a sonic window into what was happening in my head over these past two years. When looking back, I think I'll always consider Seneca to be the start of my journey. This will be the foundation that I'll build from.
“I hope y’all enjoy!”
Get an exclusive first listen to Seneca, below.