I want to talk about one of my very favorite working musicians: David Eugene Edwards. “Alternative country” would be one description, though Edwards has none of the po-mo hip irony that sometimes seeps into alt.country. He’s complex and noncommercial, but deeply sincere and impassioned. His music is dark, even oppressively so when listening to a whole album. Edwards is prone to getting lyrically overwrought and opaque, but at his best he’s one of modern folk’s finest poets.
Edwards is best known for his work with two projects: 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand. 16 Horsepower is old time country seen down a mighty long lens of American Gothic–one reviewer accurately called them “goth bluegrass.” They can take an old outlaw ballad from a staid museum piece to a genuinely tense gangster tale, or draw out parallels between frontier music from Nebraska and Slovenia and Mongolia. Woven Hand has a similar sound, but with more reverb, bombast, and pomp. That fits: Woven Hand is Edwards’s vehicle for exploring his deeply mystical Christian beliefs. Woven Hand draws equally from Nick Cave and holy roller gospel, and I’m in awe of his rawness and honesty.
I put together a playlist of some of my favorites. Click here for a David Eugene Edwards primer.