Release Date: September 11, 2008
North American Label: Sounds Familyre
European Label: Glitterhouse Records
In the words of Robert Browning, Wovenhand heralds “another greater, wilder country” on TEN STONES, the new album by musician David Eugene Edwards (also frontman of acclaimed band 16 Horsepower). Wovenhand grazes in yet stranger pastures on its fifth release with Sounds Familyre. Co-produced by Daniel Smith of Danielson, Ten Stones was recorded at the label’s New Jerusalem Recreation Room in Clarksboro, NJ, as well as at Dust Bowl Studios in Glade Park, CO. Songs were further finessed by guest artist Emil Nikolaisen’s (Serena Maneesh) driving guitar and co-engineering, the rumbling vibrations of 16 Horsepower bandmate Pascal Humbert on electric and double bass, the incisive drumming of Ordy Garrison, and the soulful guitar of Peter Van Laerhoven. On “His Loyal Love,” Elin Smith, also of Danielson, adds guest vocals to Humbert’s melody. These sophisticated musicians—many of whom share co-writing credit with Edwards—freshly illumine his considerable vocal range and masterful song craft.
Like a welcome draught from a bottomless well, Edwards sings ten untamed and mercy-drenched songs for thirsty listeners on Ten Stones. From the jarring folk of “White Knuckle Grip”, to the eerie bossa nova of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”, to the fiery foot-stomper “Not One Stone”, the album forms a song-cycle that is singular in its breadth and eclecticism. Flanked by the haunting strains of the bandoneón and the drones of the double bass, Edwards’ lyrical inversions stitch symbols into a tapestry of peaceable and hellish imagery—horsetails, honeybees, and bird wings meet flaming battles and barbed wire to proclaim sin’s devastation and the sweetness of redemption. The music of Wovenhand is utterly unique, dizzying those who encounter it, with turnings and lashings of shadow and light.
The grandson of a Nazarene preacher, Edwards dropped out of a Colorado high school to play music. He is known for an immense personal humility—a contrast to his stark lyrics about the wretched state of humanity, although he is the first to tell you that he is singing to himself. This paradoxical nature inspires such formidable listeners as Flemish choreographer and filmmaker Wim Vandekeybus, who based the score of the dance production “Blush” on the 2003 Wovenhand album Blush Music (Sounds Familyre). Blush Music was preceded by 2002’s self-titled album and marked the first of two collaborations with Wim Vandekeybus. The second work with Vandekeybus, Puur, (Glitterhouse Records) was released in 2006 and followed the 2004 Consider the Birds (Sounds Familyre) and the 2006 Mosaic (Sounds Familyre).
Ten Stones renders a beautiful encounter with healing, suffering, and sorrow. “Not one stone/ atop another will stand,” sings Edwards as creation lies motionless, paralyzed in the canyon of time. Then, as all great artists await a time when the pinnacle of their craft will be caught up in greater glory, he sings: “This weary melody ends/ The host of heaven descends/ Down beneath this bleeding ground/ Behold the lamb.”