The considerable mystique surrounding David Eugene Edwards music with 16 Horsepower or with Wovenhand, which appears to be his primary gig at the moment isnt entirely of his own making. Most of us dont really know how to take a contemporary folk-rock singer and songwriter with undeniable originality, a penchant for dark, churning sounds, and an imagination consumed by endtime visions, seared by conviction and free of irony. His kind doesnt come around often.
Edwards doesnt exactly aim for the pleasure sensors. But for the kind of music he makes, thats a good thing. He jars, instead, with percussive rock attack, sharp critiques of human nature, austere Appalachian and Eastern European melodies, and, lately, Native American flavor. Sure, theres much mysticism in the startling sounds and imagery, but it would puncture the drifting new-age fancies that often come of white musicians drawing upon Native influence.
On Ten Stones, the music isnt just brooding and foreboding as in the past; its apocalypse now. Fire falls in the form of blistering electric guitars and heavy-metal drum thrashing (not previously hallmarks of Wovenhand) during The Beautiful Axe, Not One Stone, White Knuckle Grip, and Kicking Bird. Between those last two songs comes the ultimate in contrasts: Antonio Carlos Jobims Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars. But even that gliding bossa nova is overlaid with fiendish guitar buzz, as if to warn that no quiet moment can really be trusted.
Wovenhand performing “Kicking Bird” in Philadelphia, 10-08.