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DAVID EUGENE EDWARDS is a serious man. He writes about serious topics, of struggles both internal and external, of victories and defeats. His lyrics are sparse but powerful, hinting at conflicts which cannot be settled over some cups of coffee and a half pack of cigarettes. On Ten Stones, his fourth record as WOVEN HAND after his previous band 16 HORSEPOWER ended, the music is finally matching the furrowed brow, heaving chest and raised arm stance that his vocals have delivered from the eponymous debut from 2002. I ended up getting that record based on a glowing review in the Glitterhouse mail order catalog (or maybe it was from the Aquarius records site, can’t remember) and the austere acoustic bent, permeated with a stern, foreboding tone spoke volumes, a much different slant on the typical alt.country fare of the day.
The new record betters it significantly, mainly due to the power of the accompanying band; drummer ORDY GARRISON is much further forward in the mix, and the lead track “The Beautiful Axe” fairly crackles with excitement and smoulders with the pungent stench of sulphur. It’s about near impossible for a review of Edwards’ work to not reference his religious aspects of his music, and frankly when you hear something like “Not One Stone” it’s amazingly clear why. One can fully envision David in a preacher’s robe, unfurled and flowing against a stormy backdrop as he exhorts the congregation to seek redemption and ‘behold the lamb.’ Not all of the record is that intense, and that’s a good thing; it can’t be all Revelations.
“Iron Feather” allows the listener to catch a breath or two in a dark grey atmosphere. “Quiet Night For Quiet Stars” is a somewhat mis-guided lounge attempt, as if Lee Hazelwood decided to mutilate “The Girl From Ipanema” (and I swear that I didn’t know that the song actually was a cover of an ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM song until after I’d written that!). The emotions rise high again for “Kicking Bird,” with a haunting drone hanging heavy over a hearty chorus. Due to the relentless nature of the songs, going into and coming out of this record will not be a carefree experience, but David’s about the best brimstone slinger there is after NICK CAVE.
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