Charles Wesley Godwin
How the Mighty Fall


3.5
great

Review

by Sowing STAFF
November 8th, 2021 | 10 replies


Release Date: 11/05/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A quiet and occasionally gorgeous respite

When Charles Wesley Godwin released Seneca back in 2019, he made the sort of immediate imprint that any aspiring artist should hope for. The West Virginia native’s rich and deep voice recalled a classic Appalachian charm that seemed to be sorely missing from mainstream country, and he employed a variety of lush instrumentation to complement those rugged traits. Seneca willingly abided within country/Americana’s well-established walls, but it drew on something deep within the soul of the genre that made it feel like more than just your run-of-the-mill country album.

Godwin’s sophomore LP How the Mighty Fall is an attempt to expand upon that atmosphere. Orchestral strings and steel guitar weren’t absent from Seneca, but they’re prominent here – serving as the driving force for many of these songs. An almost cinematic aura can be sensed from the get-go when ‘Over Yonder’ shifts from lush acoustics to lively fiddle, and again during the album’s best stretch – the three song run of ‘Strong’, ‘Bones’ and ‘Gas Well’. The latter of those is particularly impressive, blending intricate storytelling (and an intriguing murder tale) with winding acoustic picking, propulsive drumming, and some majestic brass woodwinds. Charles still has the ability to dial things back though, as he illustrates on the breathtaking ballad ‘Cranes of Potter’. It’s all indicative of an artist who has successfully diversified and broadened his sonic palette.

Where Godwin falls short on this album is – rather surprisingly – his vocal delivery. He has remarkable talent and that’s never in question across How the Might Fall’s runtime, but many of these songs – whether he’s singing about something personal and heartbreaking or spinning an elaborate tale of murderous intrigue – are sung very much in the same fashion, featuring similar tone, level power, and equal timbre across the board. All of this leads to a sense of detachment, like we’re listening to a great story being told but without any emotional investment from the reader. Throughout How the Might Fall, I kept waiting for Godwin’s poker face to crack – to get a glimpse of the human behind that cinematic gleam – and it never happened. Charles never lays it all on the line emotionally like he did on Seneca, leaving a palpable gap between his pen-and-paper and the hearts of his listeners. As a result, despite its admirable qualities, How the Might Fall ends up feeling like a little bit of a missed opportunity.

Despite the even-handed delivery that dulls the potential impact of these songs and their lyrics, How the Might Fall remains a respectable follow-up to Godwin’s debut that will be a worthwhile pursuit for fans of country, folk, and Americana. It doesn’t hit quite as hard as Seneca despite boasting more sonic diversity, but it offers a quiet and occasionally gorgeous respite – not unlike the album’s breathtaking autumnal artwork. The record also illustrates room for improvement: if Godwin eventually blends Seneca’s emotional component with How the Mighty Fall’s more adventurous whims, we could end up with a modern classic. He clearly has the potential to craft such an album; How the Mighty Fall, however, seems more like a prologue to something much greater and yet-to-come.



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user ratings (8)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
November 8th 2021


40044 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was nice but I feel like his best album is still yet to come. Country-goers might give this a casual spin and find some enjoyment. I'd highly recommend 'Over Yonder', 'Gas Well', and the title track/closer.

Digging: Domestic Terminal - I Could See Midnight Sky

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2021


27095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had a feeling before even clicking on this it would be a Sowing country review, haha



might check. you make it sound interesting despite being somewhat lukewarm about it

Digging: Mos Def - Black on Both Sides

Sowing
Moderator
November 9th 2021


40044 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's about right Atari. I enjoy it in a laid back/passive setting...I listened to it driving around town on Sunday with the fam and it hit the spot. But it was nothing groundbreaking for me. I saw tons of people praising the storytelling, but to me it just seemed like sort of average lyricism lol.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2021


27095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hmmm still digesting but I think this might be amazing?





Sowing
Moderator
November 9th 2021


40044 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha, hey, more power to you if you love it. I think the guy's voice is amazing but I wish the songwriting took more chances and that he'd just lay it on the line sometimes. His delivery, to me, seemed pretty even no matter what he was singing about - which I found odd, but I also know it's highly subjective.

Feather
November 11th 2021


7732 Comments


Just saw this guy open for Zach Bryan at the show last night! He was great, in fact, the whole band was great. Will have to dive a bit deeper into this. He gave out strong Jason Isbell vibes.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 11th 2021


27095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cranes of Potter is FIRE



It's funny you mention Isbell because I was actually thinking how amazing it would be to hear him do that song. not sure how similar they are overall but then again I must have thought that for a reason. the songwriting quality there is definitely up there with some of Isbell's best too. I do wish some of the other songs hit as hard. Jesse comes close..

Feather
November 11th 2021


7732 Comments


@Atari a big part of it for me was seeing him live I think. You could have told me it was "Charles Godwin and the 400 Unit" and I would have believed it.

On a completely separate note. Zach Bryan's recordings are so stripped down and simple with mostly just him on an acoustic and live the songs sounded so full and massive with a 5 member backing band.

CrisStyles
November 11th 2021


785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Temporary Town is going on my SOTY list.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2021


27095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that's a great one too.. first one that stood out to me actually



@Feather, yeah I figured the live setting might be part of it. that sounds awesome!



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