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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Woven Hand
Label: ©2008 Sounds Familyre
I firmly believe that David Eugene Edwards is a man possessed. His lyrics bleed of a Holy Ghost conviction to “turn or burn”. His southwest charisma engages the listener, while simultaneously putting a chill down the spine, with a consciousness sprinkled with penitence. He is a man of deeply held understanding of a merciful God in a merciless world.
Ten Stones is the fifth offering from DEE’s gritty outfit, Woven Hand, and it is a substantial release. 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand have always carried an underground element in their sound that keeps them from gaining any mainstream recognition. This is perfectly all right with me. It is in this indie realm that they thrive unscathed from media hounds that push the saturated, generic envelope. Here, “Ten Stones” actually brings a hope in the key of major, if you will. Lyrically, Edwards has always shown a candle in the midst of his darker meanderings, but here the light seems more pronounced on songs like “The Beautiful Axe”, “Not One Stone” and the Frank Sinatra cover, “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.” Don’t get me wrong. Everything fans of Edwards have come to anticipate are in the mix: twisting instrumentations that carry an almost unorthodox usage, minimalistic to consuming sound beds, and the ever-present hellfire ghost images.
Musically, diverse, darkly poetic, and soundly produced, Ten Stones is a must have for the deep thinking listener and fans of dark, eclectic music. Edwards’ deep convictions can light up one’s soul, if you give it time to permeate.
Bradley Snyder (thecannyshark) co-authors
and writes for www.PneumaticTire.US, a web-zine chronicling the ongoing
history of the Christian underground and independent rock scene.
This is one of those projects that are hard to really pin down. There’s an old-school vibe to the entire production, in the sense that frontman David Eugene Edwards’ vocal delivery evokes the likes of Jim Morrison, a little Bono, a good dose of The Call’s Michael Been, and the plaintive tones of English beat-poet/musician/artist/voice-crying-in-the-wilderness, Steve Scott, in particular. Like Scott, Edwards’ lyrics are poetic, apocalyptic, and often obscure – also like Scott, whose ‘back-up band’ was essentially The 77s, Edwards’ band, Wovenhand, thunders across his musical landscape in an almost-psychedelic haze, nailed down to earth by the power of their sometimes hard-driving blues/rock sound.
Ten Stones is certainly not a pop album, nor does it pretend to strive for commercial acceptance – there’s a sense of urgency about the performance that transcends the desperate efforts of so many other bands that seem to have a need to clone what’s current, and incorporate it into their bag of tricks. Wovenhand sounds as if they could have had their radios turned off since the late seventies to concentrate on writing interesting songs and playing their own somewhat haunted-sounding brand of ‘prophetic’ rock and roll. On “Not One Stone,” a very primal sounding mix of guitars, bass, drums and vocals, Edwards sings, “not one stone upon another will stand,” as if the lyrics were coming from Mount Sinai.
For the most part, Ten Stones sticks to the basic rock band mix: Emil Nikolaisen on guitar, Pascal Humbert on double and electric bass, Ordy Garrison on drums and Peter Van Laerhoven also on guitar. The band is earthy, not overly polished, and somewhat primal in its approach. When a synth is used (very sparingly) it’s used for atmospheric purposes, and usually in a melodic counterpoint. The inclusion of a piano on “Iron Feather” comes as a nice textural change and adds presence and atmosphere to the track. The band is full-power on “Kicking Bird,” where they really kickwell, something other than a bird. One of the strongest tracks, for those who like it when a band really kicks it into high gear, is “White Knuckle Grip,” where Wovenhand steps into that driving, heavy, ominous apocalyptic rock that characterized both The Call and the afore-mentioned Steve Scott: Humbert’s cool, snake-like bass line underscores the heavy rock/blues vibe as Edwards half sings/half preaches the lyric.
In the middle of all of this we get a genuine Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa nova! “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” manages to be both beautiful and off-setting at the same time, like floating through a strange dream where you’re in some beautiful landscape but you’re not really supposed to be there…. We seem to be hearing the flip-sides of romance and torture in the same song – too weird to be ‘lounge-lizard’ material, yet poking a finger in that direction long enough to make for a haunting, somewhat disturbing rest stop on this otherwise very intense project.
Ten Stones is produced with an ear toward the true ambiance of a live performance. Co-producer Dan Smith, of The Danielson Family, keeps it loose and airy; several notches above sounding like a garage-band, but not so much that you forget that Edwards and his buddies are very real, indeed.
Just when you thought you’d heard it all…. Apocalyptic Lamentation Rock lives!