There’s something about David Eugene Edwards that frankly scares the hell out of me. I don’t believe that I am alone. Anyone halfway familiar with the intensely dark and religious work of Edwards and his more widely recognized band 16 Horsepower knows precisely what I’m saying. Although hailing from rocky mountain Colorado, Edwards is possessed with the uneasy spirit of hellfire and damnation of a preacher from Southern Appalachia who dances with snakes, speaks in tongues, and drinks poison. Yes, that scares the hell out of me: not so much the spectacle of it, but the sincerity behind it.
Haunting and abrasive is both David’s voice and the Gothic Americana music he writes to back it. Woven Hand offers a naked view of Edwards, both in lyrics as well as ensemble. Gone are much of the electric and slide guitars that are 16HP signatures, and settling instead for the homesteader’s instruments — banjo, piano and upright. On Consider the Birds Edwards proves that his adoration of the traditional ballad, hinted on in previous efforts (Folklore), was not merely a passing fancy.
Rumor has it that David’s revival camp ramblings can occasionally peeve his fellow 16HP bandmates. So off he goes to record his macabre sermons, and nowhere is he more at liberty to deliver then through his sabbatical side project, Woven Hand. Consider the Birds, along with Woven Hand’s previous two albums, are all made available through Sounds Familyre, the homespun label of Daniel Smith, who you may recall for his own quirkily puritan avant-pop outfit, Danielson Famile. Both of these brethren share a common thread: unapologetically open religious convictions framed within unapologetically unique (and utterly genius) music.
But hear me, fellow sinners! When Edwards stands to spit his hellfire oration, pounding his weathered pulpit, he brings with him a force and intensity matched only by a tornado thundering through the Southern Plaines. Opening the record with his worn, broken but powerful voice, Edwards invokes his creator "Holy King cause my skin to crawl/away from every evil thing," setting the stage for a record that practices the least amount of lyrical restraint from Edwards yet. Moving steadfast, he shakes the earth and commands us, his unholy congregation, with words such as, "Judgment is not avoided by your unbelief/your lack of fear/nor by your prayers to any idol here." Then he seals it with his apocalyptic warning, "The world will bow/and knees will be broken for those who don’t know how."
By now, you are probably thinking to yourself, "I don’t need to be preached at by no holy-roller mountain fundamentalist! If I wanted a preacher, I’d damn well go to church, thank you." And maybe you’re right… but believe me when I tell you that this music transcends the experience of being "churched." In fact, I have not heard such weight or darkness or sincerity as this since the likes of Nick Cave or Michael Gira (Swans).
There's something so completely magnetic and compelling about David Eugene Edwards that one can hardly take their eyes or ears off him, transfixed as he calls upon the forces of heaven and hell to render his personal vision, or Passion — uncomfortable yes, but undeniably moving.