Wovenhand | Ten Stones (Sounds Familyre)

cd_wovenhand.jpgWhile the words remain as soulful and searching as ever (with allusions to horses, honeybees and heaven), the presentation is a bit more refined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember the first time I heard 16 Horsepower and their debut, Sackcloth ‘n Ashes, almost assuredly bought at the beautiful and lost Sports Arena Tower Records in San Diego. It was on one of those displays where they let you listen to the album. I was sucked in from the moment I heard it. The sound was almost gothic and the feel was like going to a church. There was desperation in the voice and anxiety in the music. I bought that CD and everything else that came out of the Denver band. Their sound followed me as I moved and those albums somehow felt like a safe place to me. The bands’ output was impressive, each album offering spare mixes of banjo, guitar, bass, drum, and some fiddle…often having the feel of a revival meeting. The lyrics often contained the soul searching of their chief songwriter David Eugene Edwards, whose words probed like a theologian.

In 2005, the band split due to what was termed religious and political differences. Edwards had started Wovenhand in 2001 while 16 Horsepower was taking a break. This latter band has released five albums, including two in collaboration with dance productions (do check out Blush and Puur). The current release is Ten Stones, which finds Edwards not far from the same themes he sang to many years earlier: sin’s devastation and redemption. While the words remain as soulful and searching as ever (with allusions to horses, honeybees and heaven), the presentation is a bit more refined. There is a little more age in his voice compared to a decade ago. This benefits the music and the musicians that Edwards has assembled: Elin and Daniel Smith from Danielson join Pascal Humbert (from 16 Horsepower), Emil Nikolaisen (Serena Maneesh), Ordy Garrison and Peter Van Laerhoven to create the textured world which Edwards narrates. The voice that leapt like a preacher’s still offers pyrotechnics, but now there is more finesse.

Oddly enough, the most haunting song on the album is one that Edwards did not write, "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Bossa nova has never sounded so lost and lonely. However, it shows another side of Edwards’ vocal talents—not quite a crooner, but a performer who invests much soul into his work.

Although Ten Stones may not measure up to the best of Edwards’ work, it is still well worth the listen. Perhaps you, too, will find your home. B | Jim Dunn

RIYL: 16 Horsepower, The Band on acid, Murder by Death

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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