After Years on the Road, Charles Wesley Godwin Was in a 'Funk' — Until He Wrote Himself Out of It (Exclusive)

"I decided to write about myself and about my family," the country-folk musician tells PEOPLE of his new album 'Family Ties'

As Charles Wesley Godwin prepped for the release of his new album Family Ties, the singer-songwriter was given the task of finding some old family photos that could be used on the cover.

"I just had piles and piles of pictures to pick from, from the 1800s to my childhood to now," says Godwin during an interview with PEOPLE. "There was a picture of my great-grandfather Godwin being held as a baby in the arms of my great-great grandfather around the turn of the century." He pauses. "It's just some cool stuff.”

And while a few of these pictures now find themselves on the cover of Family Ties, all of them reminded Godwin of not only where he came from, but where he ultimately wants to go.

<p>Courtesy Big Loud</p> Charles Wesley Godwin's Family Ties

Courtesy Big Loud

Charles Wesley Godwin's Family Ties

"I had a great childhood," Godwin, 30, reflects. “My mom was a schoolteacher, and my dad was a miner, and we had a nice house. I didn't want for anything. My brother and I had everything we needed."

However, unlike so many of his current creative counterparts, Godwin says that music did not play much of a role during his growing up years.

"I just assumed I couldn't sing and nobody in my family played, so I didn't even consider that as a possibility," he explains. "It wasn't until I was 19 or 20 years old when I wasn't playing sports anymore, and I felt like I needed to find some more hobbies and productive things to do."

<p>David McClister</p> Charles Wesley Godwin

David McClister

Charles Wesley Godwin

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Indeed, Godwin had found himself increasingly intrigued at the time by the music of artists such as The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan. "I was watching the Grammys in 2011, and I watched them perform and I was like, 'That was amazing,'" Godwin remembers. "I thought to myself, 'Maybe I should just pick up a guitar.' That's how it started."

The guitar that Godwin picked up had once been his brother's, discarded somewhere along the line in a closet of their family home in West Virginia.

"I kept picking it up for 15 minutes a day or so for about a year, and finally started stringing some chords together in 2012," remembers Godwin, who in 2013 wrote one of his first songs "Soul Like Mine," which is now included on Family Ties. "I was just lucky to find it because I believe it's something I feel like I'm a natural at. I bet most people on this earth have something that they're ‘a natural’ at, and it's just whether they're fortunate enough to find that thing and follow it."

For Godwin, "following it" meant taking the time to discover who he truly was as an artist, an artist whose rootsy sound certainly has a way of captivating the ears of anyone who hears it. But after several grueling years on the road, there came a time at the tail end of 2021 when Godwin says found himself in an all-out funk.

"There were all kinds of new pressures in my work life that had never really existed before," he remembers. "I was talking to my father-in-law one night and he just got my head back in the right place and just told me, 'Hey, you can't worry about anything you can't control. Just remember what's always made you happy and gotten you here in the first place.'"

From that point on, Godwin began writing the songs that would eventually make up Family Ties, a 19-track treasure that takes listeners on the sonic ride of a lifetime.

"I decided to write about myself and about my family," he says, noting that the only character song on the album is "10-38," which he describes as "the other half of 'State Trooper'" by Bruce Springsteen. "I wrote myself out of a funk by being very personal and opening myself up to people in a way I hadn't done before."

Currently living in "a nice little place outside of Morgantown, West Virginia" with wife Samantha and their two children Gabriel and Abigail, Godwin will spend the rest of the year on his fall headlining tour before joining Luke Combs' Growin' Up and Gettin’ Old stadium tour in 2024.

And all the while, he will be counting his blessings.

"Just the other day, we were on a two-lane highway and this tractor trailer tried to pass another one when it shouldn't have, and he almost head-on collided with another tractor trailer, and that was only a hundred yards in front of us," Godwin suddenly mentions. "You never know what can happen at any time, you know? It's good to let people know where you stand in case anything happens."

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