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S.G. Goodman's grassroots rock wails with resilience at the Tiny Desk

Ann Powers, Critic and Correspondent, NPR Music

S.G. Goodman gazes off into the distance as she begins the first song in this Tiny Desk session, rocking her body from side to side, connecting with a force inside and also just out of reach: maybe it's something in her past or the image of a person she holds dear, or maybe it's simply fierce, ragged hope.

"I see all my love coming back to me — I can see it!" she wails in her piercing, haunted soprano. Her band revs its engine beneath her as she testifies about a rock-and-roll epiphany. As drummer Stephen Montgomery and bassist Mark Sloan push the rhythm harder, and guitarist Michael Ruth lays down some pure-energy riffs, she squeezes her eyes shut and bears down on her guitar. Music, Goodman's songs show us, is a route to both survival and transcendence.

A proud and ever-questioning Southerner who invokes Tyler Childers, Dolly Parton and her own Kentucky accent in her between-song banter, Goodman released her debut album Old Time Feeling early on in the pandemic and her astounding Teeth Marks in June of this year.

Goodman's songs cultivate a direct gaze as they confront grief and stump for understanding. The two others offered here, "If You Were Someone I Loved" and "Space and Time," show the breadth of expression she and her band achieve with their feet firmly planted on the ground of grassroots rock, the kind that echoes from bar stages and garages in Hickman, Kentucky, and countless small American towns like it.

Goodman's stories and her sound are very particular, but she's a hero with big arms, an ordinary woman learning how to keep on keeping on. You can see it, that engagement and resilience, in every moment of this performance.

Set list

  • "All My Love Is Coming Back to Me"
  • "If You Were Someone I Loved"
  • "Space and Time"


  • S.G. Goodman: vocals, electric guitar
  • Michael Ruth: electric guitar
  • Mark Sloan: bass, vocals 
  • Stephen Montgomery: drums

Tiny Desk team

  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Engineer: Neil Tevault
  • Audio Mix: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Kara Frame
  • Audio Assistant: Andie Huether
  • Production Assistant: Jill Britton
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

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