Kele Goodwin 'Hymns'
- A Kiss For Your Eyes
- The Days of Debt
- Red String
- Goodbye Spider
I first met Kele Goodwin in 2006. I was searching through racks for an eight-dollar dress in the secondhand store where he worked. It was spring, and a time in my life where everything felt like the beginning of something.
“I think we’re playing a show together,” came a voice from the flannel aisle, where a kind-eyed fellow was quietly arranging shirts. With barely more than a smile and wave, we were friends.
A week or so later, at a venue called Holocene, we indeed played a show together. Seated and still, his gaze fixed just beyond the crowd, Kele seemed to be staring into the abyss, discovering the words as he was singing them. Both immediate and infinite, it felt impossible that his songs could exist in any other moment than the exact moment I was hearing them. I don’t even remember playing that night. I only remember Kele’s set.
It would be a few years later when he finally recorded those songs, upstairs, in a drafty old Victorian house where I happened to live. The walls were thin and I would often fall asleep to the sound of Kele’s guitar. The record took a while. There were gaps and mishaps. Within the span of a few months, Kele saw the birth of daughter, and suffered a near-fatal freak accident that left him with both renewed determination, and a scar in the crook of his picking arm.
Sean Ogilvie’s arrangements are both wise and tender. It feels strange to say he produced the record, rather, it seems he summoned the ghosts within it. They left space for the smallest sounds: a breath, the creak of a chair, a sigh, a songbird bird purring in the walnut tree out back.
I must have heard those songs a thousand times. Still, when I listen back to Hymns, I am struck by the same feeling I had at that very first show: these songs bloomed into being the second I pressed play, and could cease to exist at any moment.
A voice that holds both joy and sorrow. Kele’s songs exist in the seam between loss and reconnection. There is so much care and devotion and reverence within this collection, Hymns is an apt title. It reminds me of the story of a man who searched for God, who journeyed far from home until he reached the edge of a cliff, where a great dark void stretched out before him.
“I am here!” the man shouted to the void.
“I am here!” a voice in the void shouted back.
Satisfied, the man returned home, for it didn’t matter whether the voice was God’s, or his own voice echoing back. Either way, he found the kindness and the wisdom he’d been seeking.
It’s my profound pleasure to introduce you to Hymns, and to my dear friend Kele Goodwin, who sings of the journey and of the return, and of the ways we humans reach for one another, in brave acts and tiny gestures, in unsent letters and talismans, with gratitude and wonder.
- Laura Gibson, Curator