Wovenhand heralds “another greater, wilder country” (to borrow a line from Robert Browning) on TEN STONES, the newest album from this vehicle for musician David Eugene Edwards (also frontman of acclaimed band 16 Horsepower). Co-produced by Daniel Smith of Danielson, TEN STONESwas recorded at the label’s New Jerusalem Recreation Room in Clarksboro, NJ, as well as at Dust Bowl Studios in Glade Park, CO. The album comes out on Sounds Familyre and is Wovenhand’s fifth release on the label. Early critical response has been over-the-top positive.
Don’t come to David Eugene Edwards looking for a catchy melody to whistle. If there’s something getting stuck in your head while listening to his austere, harrowing Americana, it’s the cutting edge of a heavenly archangel’s flaming sword. Ten Stones finds the songwriter adhering to the stylistic template he’s been refining since his days fronting 16 Horsepower. Edwards unleashes his chilling signature holler, foregoing traditional melodies in favor of a near-chanted rock liturgy about Old Testament judgment (“Not one stone / Atop another will stand / This weary melody stands / The host of heaven descends”) and humanity’s moral decrepitude. If this new record departs stylistically from his massive catalog in any way, it’s the infusion of crunching, distorted guitar. His previous solo records under the Wovenhand moniker felt more foreboding than explosive, the gathering of clouds tar-black and heavy, threatening but never quite lashing the parched earth below. Searing guitar riffage on Ten Stones’ opening track “This Beautiful Axe” offers a sonic facsimile to the fire that cascaded down from heaven, singing the hair off Elijah’s arms and consuming both altar and sacrifice when he confronted the prophets of Baal. Edwards is similarly unafraid of using pyrotechnics to testify on behalf of his one true God. Jason Killingsworth/Paste October
Hometown: Elktooth, Colo.
Fun Fact: Singer/songwriter David Eugene Edwards claims a Native American influence on his next album and says the song “Kingdom Of Ice” best embodies Wovenhand’s sound in his mind.
Why It’s Worth Watching: The band’s fifth album, Ten Stones, features its signature booming sound recorded with members of Danielson.
For Fans Of: The Cure, Iron & Wine, 16 Horsepower
David Eugene Edwards has no delusions of grandeur. His songs don’t get radio time in his home country, so he’s aware of his band Wovenhand’s finite longevity, especially compared with his muse. “What God makes is what is going to stand and not what I make,” he tells Paste. “These songs that I make will not endure.”
They’ve endured long enough for Wovenhand to release five albums, the latest of which, Ten Stones, is available this week (Sept. 9). Before Wovenhand, Edwards led 16 Horsepower, which yielded its own eight albums.
Not that Edwards expects Americans to have heard much of his rumbling voice and crashing cymbals. “In America, it’s all indie, hip-hop and boy bands. Not much rock and roll anymore,” he says. “It’s all the indie rock. But indie rock is just as closed in a sense. They’re just like the major labels, they’re just smaller.”
Edwards shares a label, Sounds Familyre Records, with indie hitmaker Sufjan Stevens, but says his sound doesn’t fit in with any of the established genres in America. He’s not, in his words, the “tender bruiser: the big guy with the beard singing sad, sweet songs.” Instead, “it’s kind of a heavy folk music,” he says. This album was recorded to sound as “live as possible,” which for Wovenhand means “quite aggressive.”
“It’s much more straightforward than the past records,” Edwards says. “There are 10 songs on the record, first of all, but a stone is also a unit of measure in Britain. One stone is 14 pounds, making Ten Stones pretty weighty. For example, the song ‘Not One Stone’ is talking about the church as being built by Christ.”
In Europe, Wovenhand has found more success. Edwards estimates the band spends about four months of the year touring there. When he spoke to Paste, the band had just returned from a European tour, and planned to go back this fall after the release of Ten Stones. “We’re not a big radio band and it’s definitely touring and word of mouth,” Edwards says. “In Europe, people are much more-they don’t really go with what the trend is.”
Rachel Webster/PasteMagazine.com 9/8
Sounds Familyre Records is quite the comfy home for unique musicians. The label was founded by Daniel Smith of Danielson/Danielson Famile fame, and Sufjan Stevens has released music on the imprint. David Eugene Edwards, the musical force at the center of Wovenhand (and formerly 16 Horsepower), shares a lot of traits with Smith and Stevens. His music mines deeply emotional territory that sometimes delves into religious matters, and sounds lush and gorgeous. Ten Stones is made up of, yes, ten songs of such singular-minded musicality. John Zeiss/Prefixmag.com 9/4