Introducing: Luke Godwin

By Ben Tipple

As London-based singer-songwriter Luke Godwin prepares for the release of his record ‘Brand New Lands’, tensions are beginning to show. “Honestly, I’m terrified”, responds Luke when we ask him about the album’s impending distribution. “It’s taken so long to make and I’ve put a lot into it, so I hope a few people like it.”

‘Brand New Lands’ has been in the works for the last twelve months, an unusually lengthy time for such a record. But it hasn’t faced the typical obstacles that some artists encounter – there’s been no scrapping and re-recording, no major battles with record labels or the like. In fact, the long recording process appears to be down to Godwin’s characteristic perfectionism.

“I took far too long over making this record. I wrote a few songs and wanted to demo them with some new microphones I bought. That led to me ending up recording a few versions of some of the songs. I was constantly writing new songs while doing those demos and I did demos for those new ones too.”

Although the muddled recording process suggests a confused record, Godwin manages to pull a highly developed and considered record together. Deliberately structured to switch between acoustic and accompanied compositions, ‘Brand New Lands’ shows off a smart understanding of album structure.

“I try and have an overall plan for each record. This record was meant to be quite a clean cut pop rock record with some straight up acoustic songs”, Luke tells us, justifying the variable styles.

There is also a more practical reason for this diversity: Godwin currently performs as a solo artist. “I tried to make sure there were complete songs that I was happy with as just acoustic before building them up as full arrangements. I kept some of them pretty stripped back to distance myself from always relying on a full band.”

This forethought is another indication of his comprehensive preparation. ‘Brand New Lands’ is clearly the product of some good thinking, and of the desire to create a coherent and engaging record. It’s also evidence of Godwin’s passion for playing live.

“I think it’s important to play live. I get very nervous before I play. There’s something about it that is exciting. You only get one chance live and it’s very easy to get wrapped up with minor details in the studio. Live, you have to show people who are you are and interact with them on a personal level.”

The genuine passion for live performances has seen Godwin on a wide plethora of bills, ranging from punk through indie and acoustic, even supporting a wealth of mathcore artists. Optimistic about his general appeal, Luke hopes that most people will be able to relate to his songs.

Although currently his live performances consist only of an acoustic guitar, this album doesn’t shut the door on full accompaniments. “Some of the songs are hard to translate live with the right energy using only an acoustic guitar,” Luke ponders. “When recording, I have to see myself as each member of a band and [the] producer. It’s a very closed off way of working and that didn’t help with getting the album finished in a reasonable amount of time.”

Luke pulled together a close-knit group of friends to support the record, running tracks past them prior to recording. Despite extending the time needed to create the album, Godwin felt it was important because his initial work had become isolated. “There’s a lot to be said for external input and perspective,” Luke realises, looking back. Not that this was easy for him to recognize. “It took me a long time to reach out to them though.”

Fortunately, this fear of becoming excessively introverted allowed Luke to refocus. Reaching out to others provided a new perspective and resulted in the discovery of a supportive writing and recording process. “In the end, I worked out a process that I enjoyed and applied that to the songs I wrote,” Luke says triumphantly. “I think it worked out in the end and I’m proud of the record.”

Proud he may be, yet lessons have certainly been learned. “I don’t want to work in the same way again. I never really set aside enough time to concentrate fully and apply myself.”

This honest self-criticism and attention to detail are what elevate ‘Brand New Lands’. The record might not have been possible without Godwin’s troubled musical evolution. With its cleverly designed structure, and the ease with which it flows between acoustic and accompanied songs, the record has certainly benefited from his compulsive tendencies.

‘Brand New Lands’ is only the start of a long journey for Luke Godwin. Even before the official release he is already deep in thought about the next project. Likewise, we’re meditating on what a young artist with such foresight could muster in the future. For now, ‘Brand New Lands’ is a well crafted start.

Those interested can pre-order the album here or purchase it via BandCamp.