Woven Hand – S/T

Leaving his regular band, 16 Horsepower, temporarily moored in the stables, David Eugene Edwards steals away for a few dark and lonely nights to sell his forever-repenting soul to a solo side-project. A genuine son of a preacher man, Edwards’ alchemy of fire ‘n’ brimstone rock is relocated from the fiery country-punk storms of his regular unit into something even more rustic but no less intense.
Through dense thickets of acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins, harpsichords, organs, piano, and bone-rattling percussion, Edwards switches the searing 16 Horsepower sonic snarl for the Mariachi melodrama of Calexico, the hardcore-acoustics of Bright Eyes, and the fractured-folk of the first Palace Brothers album. It’s a logical side step for a man whose muse is relentlessly driven by a desire to tackle his own personal and religious torment. The new musical disorientation aside, though, Edwards’ songs do largely remain the same. Bleached in bleak Biblical language and delivered by Edwards’ forever choked emotive wail (one part Will Oldham, two parts Nick Cave), his songs are still gravely personal, paranoid, and deliriously disturbed as ever.
Edwards continues to wrestle with his Christian faith and conflicting desires throughout. The sublime splendour of “The Good Hand” provides the best example, with its curiously catchy but scolding chorus, “let it lye, let it go to ruin, to be blown thin by the wind, a heavy drone, a heavy sway, girl I love to hear you talk that way.” Elsewhere, Edwards drags Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” through the dustbowl dirt, drawing out a deeper sense of loss and foreboding barely present in the original. Edwards’ own words can also be as potently poetic as Dylan and as vividly dramatic as Nick Cave’s early works, but he also continues to establish himself as a unique storyteller in his own lost realm.
Almost inevitably though, as with 16 Horsepower’s regular albums, sometimes it just becomes too much. With Edwards continuously cursing both himself and humanity through his tough worldview, there’s little here that offers hope or sanctuary to us sinful mortal souls. However, all told, this semi-solo debut takes us on a thrilling gripping ride into a scorched earth sunset.