Family Ties

Family Ties

Charles Wesley Godwin had a lot riding on Family Ties. The West Virginia-born singer-songwriter built a still-growing fanbase with his first two records, 2019’s Seneca and 2021’s How the Mighty Fall, landing a record deal with Big Loud in the process. That increased visibility created some pressure for Godwin, who tells Apple Music he experienced bouts of writer’s block while putting the project together, particularly when considering how his wife and young children depended on his income. It wasn’t until he confronted those feelings of fear, though, that he was able to start writing again, finding peace and comfort in the process. It also reminded him of why he started writing songs in the first place. “I'm going to do this for the rest of my life,” Godwin tells Apple Music. “I love this. This is what makes me happy. So I plan on doing this until I'm an old man and I can't do it anymore.” Family Ties is a sprawling and ambitious record. At 19 tracks, it’s nearly a double album and Godwin’s longest release, making it an exciting introduction for new fans and a greater glimpse at Godwin’s artistry for longtime listeners. The album is bookended with an overture (“Tell the Babies I Love Them”) and an underture (“By Your Side”), lending the project a novelistic feel that fits Godwin’s narrative, highly vivid style of songwriting. Highlights include “Miner Imperfections,” inspired by Godwin’s father’s experiences as a coal miner in Appalachia, and “The Flood,” a particularly epic track that Godwin wrote and recorded in under 24 hours. Bruce Springsteen fans will especially enjoy “10-38,” which imagines what would have happened if a cop had pulled over the narrator of The Boss’s Nebraska cut “State Trooper.” Below, Godwin shares insight into several key tracks. “The Flood” “I'd gotten up at like 3:30 in the morning because I knew I needed to get this done. I'd been wanting to finish that song and worked on it three hours that morning, finished it, and then we recorded it that day. So what you're hearing, that song is a brand-new song. And I'm still kind of learning how to sing it.” “All Again” “We did not consider that one to be nearly as bluegrassy as it ended up being. And when we got in a circle in the main room and just started playing it together, that's just how it fell into place there. And we're like, ‘This sounds great. Let's do it this way.’ So it came off very string-band-y on the album. I think that was something that we didn't exactly plan on doing.” “10-38” “So, Springsteen's character in ‘State Trooper,’ I always took it as a guy that was kind of having a breakdown speeding out on the New Jersey turnpike late one night. And he might've just killed somebody or maybe he was about to. So I wrote ‘10-38’ from the point of view of the state trooper, because Springsteen's character was worried about getting pulled over. And you don't exactly know why he's worried about getting pulled over, and it kind of seems like he could do anything.” “Soul Like Mine” “It was the third song I ever wrote, I think. And I didn't know what I was talking about when I wrote that. I just started playing gigs and I was trying to pretend like I'm some road-worn guy. And now here I am 10 years later and I'm very road-worn. And I don't know, part of me was like, ‘Is this some whiny musing of this person I used to be?’ I'm not even that kid anymore. Two totally separate people. I even squeak at the end of it because my voice, it's beat down. It had been a long day, but we just left it at that take.” “Cue Country Roads” “I made that for the West Virginia Mountaineers—any athletic team, any competition, anytime they step out on a field, a court, a track, a pool, a gun range or whatever, the wrestling mats. I just made that so that maybe they can use that for sports. Because I just felt like we needed a little bit of personalized culture, some more of it into our experience as fans. And they started playing it at the stadium. If we're going to win, they'll play it.”

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