Review Summary: Solo albums under a new alias are quite common, but never this good and representing of what made the individual member such a necessary component of the band. David Eugene Edwards does just this on Consider the Birds
On his solo effort using the moniker of Woven Hand, David Eugene Edwards shows he is the heart and soul of the band 16 Horsepower
by unveiling his own heart and soul and putting them on display all by himself, proving the music made by the band is basically a one man show. Although a one man show is not without its outside help, the occasional additional band is used to hammer some tunes out, but these bands with all their members combined only creates an equal weight with Edwards, who is the obvious star of the show. On this album with help, he expresses himself, an emotional and Christian man from Colorado. This becomes prevalent in the choice of words in the phrase that is the solo project, Woven Hand. The term comes from the visual of one folding their hands for prayer and asking upon their God for help or giving thanks. These views instilled upon Edwards are not the result of a second hand try at faith or a born again Christian. Living in the environment of Colorado with a grandfather who is a preacher, Edwards has always had these beliefs, and have always made allusions and symbols in his musical work to the Christian faith.
With faith in his heart and developed musical talent in his soul, Edwards continues to make a name for himself in the field of alternative country, boldly setting a constantly dark mood and with using various ways of singing narrates these pieces about . With the freedom being granted by being the one who calls 100% of the shots now, Edwards takes advantage of this and simultaneously makes his real life something not to hide, but to narrate and describe. The image of a Christian singer/songwriter being "lame" (re: Jeremy Enigk
) is shed as the instruments may be lacking, but the growing really occurs in the lyrical content as it focuses.
Just like in his tenure with 16 Horsepower, the concept of the opening track is not taken lightly and emphasis on making it a hook is usually placed upon it. Enter "Sparrow Falls
", not only keeping in line with the theme of birds implied by the title, but showing that a more stripped down and less big noise is not a bad thing. A simple guitar riff occasionally playing with backing percussion in the form of piano and drums back the straightforward sounding Edwards as his delivery is not too much loud nor is it silent and soft. Piano and skins bridge the piece in the chorus where Edwards remarks: "I will you no grief no to see you fall/Once had a mind to I'm done with that/I mean you no harm at all
". As we see him take him take the role of forgiver in this opening piece, religion seems like a crashing wave ready to descend upon this album, and even if you're not for it, it does not seem like a bad thing at all as the piano and drums come together to make this song enjoyable without relying on lyrical content to push it through.
Now earlier and various times in this review I mentioned David Eugene's Christian background playing more of a role in the lyrical content and some of his singing styles used on this album. This comes to light the clearest on the third track, "To Make a Ring"
which sounding it out could mean many things, but as the song plays, it explains it all. " Power glory honor/Be unto my king/We will weave our hands (x2)/We will weave ours hand together to make ring"
. As clear as the gospel influences show through, so does the base of the name chosen by Edwards to represent himself, Woven Hand. Pairing with the influence, the trademark yelps and hollers across bridges are also found on this item, along with violin for the first time on this album. "To Make a Ring"
blends past and present life so well with the man, and it is certainly a highlight track.
What has made his music so effective in the past but had remained a hidden talent for him is the ability to set the mood in conjunction to not only the title of the piece, but the feeling it connotes. The drought is filled with water on "Oil On Panel"
, where an atmospheric beginning coupled with the sounds of birds in the light rain and piano fills the air. From there noises that sound either like someone brushing on canvas or snorting blow (probably the former) come in to join the now building piano. An additional brush stroke hits the board as the voice comes in and the piece is vocally painted and layered upon. As the title might dictate there is a romantic feel with this number, it goes slow, complete with hums that get from verse to verse and a buildup from the second verse. " I paint them roughly/I paint them in my sleep/Ira/Gula/Luxuria/Heavy as their holes are deep
" slowly broadcasts Edwards who verbally paints and slashes away at this masterpiece. Its slow, the picture comes into form over time, and the buildup does not disappoint as the results are worth the 5:36 wait.
Using old elements to gaining the ability of not fearing expressing himself whole, Woven Hand breakthrough on this, their 4th full length and most accessible album. This comes with a recommendation if you are into 16 Horsepower, alternative country, or any genre really that appreciates slow rolling and worthwhile listens.