What began as a way for David Eugene Edwards to quell his prolific songwriting flame while the increasingly seminal 16 Horsepower dithered over "mostly political and spiritual" differences, Denver-based Woven Hand has evolved into a full-time gig.
Even having given it the "side project" treatment since its inception (which, in the beginning, was really just Edwards, plus a turnstile of supplemental musicians on tour), Woven Hand received crucial accolades from 16 Horsepower fans and critics alike. The band has quietly released some of the most engaging hybrids of Native American folk, gloomy old-time rusticity, and theatrical, grandiose rock music since Nick Cave all but put a patent on the merger. Which is not to say that Woven Hand is unoriginal; it isn't. It's just become something of an industry standard to imply apathy toward the attempt to accurately describe Edwards' indescribable sound. The straight line between his and Cave's voices is simply the shortest distance to travel.
Woven Hand has six independent releases under its belt, but it wasn't until this year's Ten Stones that the band (also composed of now full-fledged members Ordy Garrison on drums, Peter van Laerhoven on guitar, and former 16 Horsepower bassist Pascal Humbert) began to ladle from a larger cauldron, straying from the infamously redemptive religious undertones of Edwards' previous work, and placing a broader emphasis on a permeating cyclone of sounds. Having been highly influenced by his grandfather, a Nazarene preacher, Edwards used memories of his sermons as lyrical wormholes, ushering decidedly gospel-themed sheens into his songwriting. Ten Stones weaves seamlessly through reverb-heavy, atmospheric crescendos and sweeping tribal imagery, held down by Edwards' slickly gruff vibrato and knack for leaving just enough space in the movements for you to realize you're being crushed by something totally immersive.
Reports from the road have indicated that the live Woven Hand experience is not unlike a religious one, despite the lack of any overt saints-and-sinners aesthetic in recent years. It could simply be the result of the evolved avenues through which Edwards imparts his lyrical themes. Either way, when a band has the capacity to simultaneously thrill you and creep you out, it's most definitely worth keeping an ear—and mind—open.