Welcome to our ongoing series The Anatomy Of A Good Song. In this series we aim to highlight a song from a West Virginia artist that sets the standard as to what a quality song should be in regards to the overall feel and sound of a song. That’s not to say all songs should sound the same or are created equally, but these songs are great examples of what is possible. Today we present to you, The Flood by Charles Wesley Godwin from his album Family Ties. Be sure to follow this outstanding band and, as always, check out our Born & Bred Spotify Playlist for more great WV music!
Vocals: To classify Charles Wesley Godwin’s vocals as country is a failure to acknowledge the range and versatility of what he does. Unfortunately, the term rock and roll became a very narrow term after the 90s that pushed a lot of artists that were previously under that umbrella into the country genre that expanded its tent around the same time. Some examples of artists that are country that would’ve just been rock before this change would be Darius Rucker and for a West Virginia example, look no further than Chris Weaver. Charles obviously has some tracks that fall squarely in the country genre but The Flood could’ve been a track on Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes album. His vocals on this track convey a similar urgency to Bruce’s reworked Ghost Of Tom Joad that featured Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave) on guitar and vocals. The vocal is less country and more Kings Of Leon and does it ever work. Charles sings the lines of this track like a man pleading for salvation.
Production: The Flood was Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, North Carolina in January of 2023 as part of Charles’ Family Ties album. The mixing from Al Torrence on this track and album as a whole is incredible. Sonically it pushes all the right buttons. The only thing we would’ve loved to have heard would be the electric guitar lead line on the musical outro pushed to the front of the mix a little more but that’s personal preference. It still works as it is. The blend of the vocals and instruments is perfect for the story this song is telling. Going back to the aforementioned Ghost Of Tom Joad, The Flood captures a similar sonic presence.
Instrumentation: Charles is surrounded by a stable of talented musicians and it shows all over this album. This track is a great example of that because the music is actually subdued throughout most of this track. One mistake a lot of musicians make is to overplay and detract from the story and feel of the song. Not here. There is a restraint from the musicians that feels like you’re holding back a friend ready to launch into a fistfight. You can feel the tension building throughout the track and then it’s allowed to explode at the end of the song in a beautifully constructed musical outro. The Flood utilizes electric guitar, Moog Synth, Hammond B3 Organ, trumpet, lap steel, pedal steel, percussion, bass, acoustic guitar and drums. You’d think that’s a lot in one space but Torrence’s mix allows them to fill the space without overwhelming the listener and story.
Lyrics: Godwin utilizes the idea of a flood to talk about the need to fight for the ones you love and what will do when the opportunity arises? The lyrics aren’t super complicated but they don’t need to be to convey the message of desperation.
Got a call from my folks
Said, “The water is rising.”
“There goes the fence,” momma said
Then the line went dead
Gotta find my way
No, I just can’t stay
When the voice inside your head says you must go home
What would you do when the Lord calls?
Would you go over the bridge for your blood?