Review Summary: 16 Horsepower release their definitive album. Blues and folk influences mixed with country and rock and roll power this album along with catchy and relaxed songs.
Lead by the charge of Uncle Tupelo making country enjoyable to fans of rock music, a sort of country reinventing took place in the early 90's. One of the premier bands in this charge besides the previously mentioned Tupelo was a Denver alternative country outfit, 16 Horsepower. Since they began releasing records in 1995, there never was a definitive CD to come out of their collection. After 4 LPs and a live one the band gathered for a cleanly produced and sounding record that remained consistent and easy to listen to. In 2002, the resulting piece of their work was titled Folklure
One quality that is strong about the band and that guides this piece is the lyrics and their ability to tell intriguing stories. The point of which is to pull the listener in to enjoy what is being told as well as to not concern some listeners that the album will be full of run-of-the-mill country ballads which are usually on such records. From the album's second number, Outlaw Song
which recalls of a desperado's run in with the law involving his grey horse, the album becomes more open to inspection as a full collection of well-structured stories told by the smooth and Robert Plant sounding vocals of David Eugene Edwards. He leads his band by writing the gripping original songs that they play.
Another showcased ability of the band is their knack of creating mood setting music that plays along with their storytelling lyrics. Getting a good pair of headphones aides in setting the mood, quiet except for the violin that skips about and colors what the acoustic folk guitar has to offer. Sometimes it takes other instruments to join the other band's elements to create the music that works so well. The bands classic and signature usage of the bandoneón (http://www.meloteca.com/imagens/instrumentarium/bandoneon.jpg) help color tracks along with the violin, but also display the bands folk and gospel influences while using older instruments to perfection in their music.
Feeling as if you're in the moment and actually in the scene the music and lyrics combine to give off is another highlight of Folklure
. Throughout the album you get the feeling that it is taken directly from some ol' John Wayne country movie, sometimes expecting a shoot-out but getting songs about character introspection. Perhaps it is the yips and hollers in the beginning of Single Girl
that really put you in a out-in-the-country mood, Maybe its the slow playing guitar and melancholy violin in Alone and Forsaken
that make you feel out on a field without even God to save you from a life without love. No matter what message is being communicated, the band communicate it very well and effectively.
A downside to this album is the feeling that some of the traditional songs they play bring the rest of the material down and get old rather quickly. The beginning number, Hutterite Mile is only a mild introduction to the material in the piece, not choosing to base its lyrical foundation on storytelling, but on symbols and taking a more poetic approach. While it may work that they are exceptional lyrics, they do not add to the album and somewhat take away from it by forming a dud of a first song. This however works in Horsepower's favor, as it makes Outlaw Song that much better when people play it first after being disappointed by Hutterite Mile.
Alone and Forsaken