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Woven Hand

Prog Folk

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Woven Hand Ten Stones album cover
3.58 | 23 ratings | 6 reviews | 22% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Beautiful Axe (5:27)
2. Horsetail (2:51)
3. Not One Stone (4:50)
4. Cohawkin Road (4:07)
5. Iron Feather (4:31)
6. White Knuckle Grip (3:34)
7. Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars (2:56)
8. Kicking Bird (2:13)
9. Kingdom Of Ice (3:23)
10. His Loyal Love (3:50)
11. untitled (3:44)

Total time: 41:26

Line-up / Musicians

- David Eugene Edwards / vocals, guitars
- Ordy Garrison / drums
- Peter Van Laerhoven / guitars
- Pascal Humbert / bass
- Emil Nikolaisen / guitars
- Elin K. Smith / vocals

Releases information

CD Sounds Familyre (2008) U.S.

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
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WOVEN HAND Ten Stones ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

WOVEN HAND Ten Stones reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars Religion is a strange thing; many resist, youth rebel against, and millions deny. Yet the vast majority of the world claim one religion or another as their own. We mark time with a calendar that separates human epochs based on the birth of a religious figure that many reject. Long-formed traditions in nearly every culture have their roots in religious beliefs or superstitions, even those where the origins have been clouded by history. Wars are fought, buildings blown apart, nations and peoples laid bare; lives are defined and sometimes made forfeit all in the name of religion. Words and names mouthed as holy by some are uttered as profane by others, and both hate the other as a result. We live on a planet full of men where it is written both were formed by an all-knowing and infinitely powerful creator, yet disease and poverty and despair abound. Holy books are filled with tales of punishment, retribution, trials and a coming apocalyptic climax, and sometimes include incidents of the most horrific depravity that should cause rational-thinking people to recoil in disgust and fear. And in the end all religion is based on an expression of faith; though not always on hope, which the ancient Greeks (perhaps wisely) considered the most powerful of evils loosed from Pandora’s Box. Nietzsche declared hope to be the cruelest of emotions because of its power to prolong the miseries which of necessity must be present for hope to have any authority.

It’s all a very messy business.

David Eugene Edwards recognizes the interlaced contradictions and darkness that blanket this place we call home, and doesn’t shy away from the view. Wovenhand music has always chronicled the journey of The Struggle, both with poignancy and often wanton despair, this latest album more so than any prior. And while hope may offer little comfort or relief, neither does despair engulf the listener. It is what it is, nothing more, and certainly nothing less. Weak and timid souls need not apply.

The album explodes with torrid guitar blasts and a fervent drumbeat on “The Beautiful Axe” (the Blood Axe?), another lyrically disjointed yet poetic gaze to heaven written by Edwards; piously declaring “To the humble He has given grace, from the proud He hides his face” and following with an almost gleefully fatalistic chant of “Joy has come in the mind that I see - beautiful the axe that flies at me”. Wovenhand seem to have abandoned any pretense of docile Americana folk as Edwards channels generations of whiskey-breathed and grizzled tent-revival evangelists who stoked the fear-inspired Christian principles that evolved across Middle America between the ages of post-Civil War carpetbaggers and the free-form Chautauqua movements of the early twentieth century. Nine or ten more like this one and Southern blood would boil in righteous indignation and rail against a world of depravity and evil intention.

But a basic tenant of those same homespun Ameri-Christian principles is humility, finding its genesis in biblical proverbs such as “every proud man is an abomination to the Lord; I assure you that he will not go unpunished”; and “if you have foolishly been proud or presumptuous, put your hand on your mouth; for the stirring of milk brings forth curds, and the stirring of anger brings forth blood”. “Horsetail” expands on this theme amid a jangling, almost country guitar riff and the dire warning “if you think you can see it in your hand then you are blind; He brings the whirlwind to scatter your fire - you cannot reach Him, no - not from your tallest spire”. Maxims to live by, courtesy a band of scruffy and tattooed post-grunge rockers.

As with any proper Christian-themed record there must be a rapturous, apocalyptic song, and “Not One Stone” delivers that for this album. Edwards describes the final act in which the chosen one returns to exact vengeance and deliver holy justice on this thing He once created. Everything will be laid waste says the holy book; not one stone will remain atop another:

“On my way down this weary melody ends; the host of heaven descends, down beneath this bleeding ground - behold the lamb”

But Edwards is a red-blooded American at heart, sometimes even more so than he is a wild-eyed rural evangelist, and has a tendency to wander thematically with his music on occasion. Some of his best work has been odd covers and musical landscapes of dusty roads and dry fields cracked with the rise of too many hot suns. He is guilty of both indulgences on this record, starting with the undecipherable yet maudlin lyrics, bleak piano and rambling acoustic guitar on “Cohawkin Road” and “Iron Feather”. While I’ve no idea what these songs are about the return of piano, strings and other acoustic instruments recall his earliest work with both 16 Horsepower and this band, and are in the finest Americana tradition of Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’, Mellencamp's ‘Rough Harvest’ and most everything Tom Waits ever recorded. Best listened to driving down a desolate country road in a rusted-out Oldsmobile on a dry autumn evening.

That Appalachian country swagger and guttural Jim Carroll-like worldliness seen on earlier Wovenhand albums rear their head again in the form of a weekend night wild ride on “White Knuckle Grip”, a sauntering good-old-boy urban cowboy musical cruise along dark and foreboding streets of trouble and whiskey philosophy. Strange change of pace for this album, but probably not so strange considering the juxtaposition of faith and fallow lives this band so comfortably embraces.

Like I said before, Edwards’ other penchant is toward seminal cover tunes, including the Bill Withers R&B classic “Ain’t no Sunshine” on the band’s debut album; and John Fogerty’s “Bad Moon Rising” and Joy Division’s “Day of the Lords” with 16 Horsepower. On this album Edwards adopts the late A.C. Jobim’s bossa nova standard “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” (“Corcovado”) as his own, a song that has been recorded by everyone from Miles Davis to Cliff Richard to Queen Latifah. Under Edwards’ supervision the tune takes on the semblance of a morbid, almost fatalistic existential lament. Possibly one of the weirdest and most disturbing jazz covers ever recorded.

The band reflect their mountain Western roots with the rollicking, almost post-punk wailing tribute to the old Kiowa Native American chief Kicking Bird on the song of the same name. An interesting figure to honor, as Kicking Bird was widely derided by follow Indians back in the 19th century as he became one of the first to treaty with the U.S. government, only to see the treaty broken and his people herded into Oklahoma reservations far from their ancestral mountain home; and himself dead at the suspected hand of a saboteur from his own race.

More of the acoustic punk-meets-bluegrass dirge that landed 16 Horsepower the label of ‘goth-country’ on the angry and stark “Kingdom of Ice”, another heavily acoustic song with sarcastic overtones on the false sense of power and control over nature and self-determination exhibited by modern man.

The band brings things home to roost with the peaceful, eagle-soaring-across-a-mountain-range “His Loyal Love”, written by band bassist Pascal Humbert and sounding all the world like a nature hymn sung in an open meadow. A peaceful ending to a raucous and otherwise disturbing album. The band adds a short flourish with an instrumental soundscape to close things out.

As an American who has lived through the high point of our landing men on the Moon and finding a cure for polio, to the current state of watching a once great nation possibly wheezing out its death throes caused by decades of excess, hubris and arrogance; I sometimes feel that there is little tolerance or interest in exploring and reflecting on the generations of experiences that brought us to where we are. But it is important to do so nonetheless, and also important (as is the case with any peoples) to understand the elements that make up one’s whole. Wovenhand have moved beyond the pale of traditional Americana music to a new place that is both frightening and morbidly fascinating: one can’t help but be drawn in and repulsed at the same time. Anything that can cause such powerful emotions must be considered an experience worth having, for the enlightenment it brings if nothing else. This is not a musical masterpiece, but it is an essential tapestry of a conflicted and complex people who continue to grow, thrive and survive despite all odds (and possibly even despite natural order and justice). Like I said, it is what it is, so enjoy the show.


Review by Sean Trane
3 stars It's been a long wait since Woven Hand's last full-fledged studio album: if I remember well, the superb Mosaic was from early 06, while Ten Stones is from late 08, which is a long wait for a confirmation. A confirmation that doesn't really come as the new album cannot match its predecessor's fantastic ambiance. Indeed, I don't think DEE (that David Eugene Edwards) even tried to match it, as the album is harder-rocking than most of WH had done before; indeed this could be a 16 Horsepower album of sorts (the line had become rather blurred in 01, when DEE stopped 16 HP in favour of WH), although TS fits the WH mould rather well. As usual, impossible to know who is playing what on each track, so we'll have to guess at the usual suspects Garrison (drums), McMahon (keys) and Van Laerhoven (bass & guitar) and on "strings" Elin Palmer (now Smith), but these are just guesses, looking at Mosaic. Added noises and guitars from the two engineers Smith and Nikolaissen.

The object comes in a superb and evocative digipak hinting at an old leather-covered sacred book holding the texts of his latest (yes ten of them) thoughts - let's not forget DEE is a twisted character prey to his constant religious torments, a heritage from his preacher father. The opening Beautiful Axe is a good example of how the album sounds: while remaining sonically typically WH, the music is less medieval-sounding (but still fairly folky), less poignant but rockier and more optimistic than Mosaic. Among the more interesting tracks is Kicking Birds, which is supposed to start on native chants, but sounds mostly like the Picts and Scots going to war on each other over bagpipes background.

The short Horsetail works on a descending riff and has droning cello in its closing moments and the great Not One Stone has a good violin, courtesy of Elin, and ... whatever. I'm not going to go through every track, just figure it out for yourselves. Some tracks are almost hard rock, like White Knuckle Grip, where DEE's tendency at sounding a bit like U2 at least once per album is evident. And once again, DEE is prone to making a big mistake in covering Quiet Nights, sounding pastiche to the usual crooner type material.

There is in fact an eleventh "hidden" dronal track, which aside the opener, happens to be my fave because it's definitely the most experimental. So Ten Stones, while a typical WH album, it fails to carry the sonic hopes (exploring more medieval soundscapes) born with Mosaics, but it is still a good album to fit next to the other DEE albums.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My journey with 16HP and Wovenhand ended in 2006 with Mosaic, where I found D.E. Edwards starting to repeat his same old mantra too much. When finding Wovenhand on PA (much to my surprise) I finally checked his more recent albums. Much to my delight!

Right from the opening bars of The Beautiful Axe we hear D.E. Edwards on the edge of his seat, it's a nervous rock song showing an intricate arrangement that immediately reminded me of Popol Vuh's later rock albums (Das Hohelied Salomos and Lätzte Tage Lätzte Nächte). Wovenhand had always been an original and non-conformist indie band, but with the sophisticated rocking approach they take here, the term Prog-Folk doesn't sound all that far-fetched anymore.

The series of haunting rock songs continues till Cohawkin Road where Edwards returns to his known gothic folk balladry. Iron Feather continues the more atmospheric approach. It is on songs like this that Wovenhand resembles early Nick Cave songs like Stranger Then Kindness and The Carny. The second half of the album starts on a lighter and slightly humorous/bizarre tone with the heavy country blues stomp White Knuckle Grip. A morbid cover of Quiet Nights brings us back into Edwards chilling and fear-ridden universe, from which we find no escape for the remainder of the album.

There aren't any off-days in Edwards musical output, but even so this album easily stands out, for its diversity, song quality and of course, its scaring intensity and haunting 'fear of the Lord'. Much recommended as an introduction to the artist.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars For quite some time now, David Eugene Edwards has been pumping out some of this century's most intense country jams with (the now disbanded) 16 Horsepower and his current Christianity-themed dark folk/country rock group Woven Hand, both of which are powerful displays of how Christianity can strengthen the lyrical themes of music rather than hinder it with cheesy Sunday-school fairytale mentality.

The tracks on Ten Stones are all standard 3- to 5-minute tunes, but the sophistication of each individual song arrangement is nothing to scoff at. The verse-chorus- verse songwriting method is mostly eschewed, and Edwards instead opts for complete story-like compositional methods, like listening to little vignettes of religious punishment and sorrow. These songs aren't progressive in the usual stereotyped "epic" composition style, but the compact and dense compositional sophistication is where the progressiveness lies.

Ten Stones is a rugged, dusty sounding album. The standard rock instrumentation is so dirty and gritty, I can almost imagine the band, being parched and distraught, playing in the desert during a weak sandstorm as tumbleweeds and dismembered cacti blow across the landscape while scorpions and snakes burrow into the ground for shelter from what could possibly be an isolated drought as willed by God during a fit of anger against the sinning few. Not just the sound of the instruments themselves, but the passionate power of the players comes through with every strum of the guitar and every hit of a drum. Edwards especially offers up a great performance as always -- he sings with the most passionate, powerful, preachy vocals that sound like he's seriously channeling the upset voice of his lord through inexplicably comprehensible glossolalia. The production also enhances the overall musical experience, adding more of that dusty, dry, summery heat atmosphere.

As with most Woven Hand albums, or any musical project with Eugene Edwards at its helm, each song on this album stands out on its own. One of the most powerful songs on Ten Stones is "Iron Feather", a slow, piano-driven ballad whose sonic painful drama is completely oppressive, with lyrics portraying nothing but imagery of sadness of various sorts, getting the point across that our world is and always has been full of pain and misery. The following track, "White Knuckle Grip", with great contrast, is a groovy and extremely noisy country-blues song where Eugene Edwards preaches nearly spoken-word religious imagery into your brain while a confused accordion melody wobbles around in the periphery. Besides being mostly a country/folk rock album, there are moments that break from this most -- "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" is a smooth latin-jazz or bossa nova styled song with Edwards doing what is basically his best Sinatra impression, with beautiful mellotron providing a dramatic backup. The final two tracks are mostly powerful atmospherics, which Edwards has been utilizing since he started this band, and it really makes for a great dramatic exit to a wonderfully dramatic album.

Comparing this album to anything besides previous Woven Hand albums or anything from 16 Horsepower is a bit difficult, as everything by these two projects have a very unique sound. Basically, this is some of the roughest, dirtiest, manliest Christian-themed country/folk rock music with the added benefit of progressive composition that you'll be able to find anywhere, like a country western soundtrack to the impending apocalypse.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars "Ten Stones" finds David Eugene Edwards at his most acerbic and hard rocking, with cuts alternating between unchecked if bleak passion and his more typical morose observation. A far cry from the crafty assemblage of "Mosaic", as an album this comes across as illegitimate and hastily thrown together. In addition, the more pungent exercises seem more than a tad overwrought.

While "Not One Stone" demonstrates that Woven Hand's fitness level is up to the task, "White Knuckle Grip" is a dressed up big old boogie blues number in all the worst ways, and "Kicking Bird" is yet another wholly unsubtle megillah of rants and gashes that, at 2:14, runs too long. Even the ostensible showcase opener "The Beautiful Axe" is essentially shrouded in oppressive dread. Now, Woven Hand has always been this way, but somehow they knew how to skirt the boundaries while still respecting musicality, until here.

The album does include several isolated peaks in the form of "Horsetail", the achingly Gothic "Iron Feather", and "Kingdom of Ice", but in this divide and conquer episode, the thrashers win out, so avoid this stoning and try "Mosaic" instead.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars David Eugene Edwards started the band "Wovenhand" after there was a disagreement with his previous band "16 Horsepower" which was a gothic alt-country band that did quite well within that genre. in the beginning, the band was mostly acoustic, and would still use the leaner sound on some future albums, but the band grew over the years into a full-fledged band giving the music more depth and variety. Wovenhand continues with the dark sound of his previous band, but with more of a spiritual/religious undertone, but still continuing with a gothic feel, giving the music a fire and brimstone style. The instruments are typically western traditional, giving the music a neo-folk sound but based on the old religious attitude of learn or burn in hell. This is one of the band's better and more believable albums, containing a good amount of variety as the band becomes braver and plays around with their sound more.

"The Beautiful Axe" starts with a swirling uptempo track with intense drumming and a catchy, yet dark, sound, while the next track, "Horsetail" sounds like a slow, fire and brimstone style, almost gothic in sound. "Not One Stone" has an almost cinematic flair to it, reminding one of old western songs from the likes of Johnny Cash with an increase in intensity in the instrumental break. This one harkens back to some of the dark and heavy tracks of David's prior band "16 Horsepower", but with a urgent and dangerous religious message to deliver. "Cohawkin Road" reminds one again of the old western cinematic themes, sparser this time, yet expansive like the land this sound brings to mind. "Iron Feather" has more keyboard usage, but processed to take away the brightness of the piano.

"White Knuckle Grip" has a slow boogie style that has a rough edge to it. This gives the music a unique feel and the vocals have a frantic quality to them. There are some interesting sounds from the keys that sounds like a harsh accordion. "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" is a cover of an old bossa nova tune, but its given the goth-cowboy feel in this interesting track. The basic beat is still there, but there is also a strange drone giving the foundation to the tune. It's always good to hear an old track made new with experimentation. "Kicking Bird" begins with a drum solo kicking out a tribal rhythm and being joined by almost sitar sounding drones, but the band doesn't resort to world music sounds, but instead they adjust the tribal style to sound like their style. It is a short, yet enjoyable variation of their goth-cowboy theme.

The mid-Eastern sound persists into the next track "Kingdom of Ice" which goes back to the frantic feel of the bands spiritual urgency. David really preaches hellfire on this track, the instrumentals go to a sparser sound to give room for the lyrics on this one. "His Loyal Love" again uses a drone-like quality under the acoustic pattern and a fuzzy guitar sound. The vocals are more subdued and in a foggy, almost psychedelic choral style with definite leanings toward psychedelic instrumentals. The last track is untitled and an atmospheric instrumental.

The overall album is quite unsettling, as Wovenhand's albums seem to be, even when at their most acoustic. But this album is quite heavy at times, at least in a foreboding way, as it sears its way into your mind. It is good to hear this much variety on a Wovenhand album, as it keeps this album sounding like some of their others giving it more character. The last half of the album suffers a bit from development, and I would have liked to have heard more expansion in those tracks, but overall, it is one of their better albums. Still, it's not quite a masterpiece, but it is an album I like to listen to often.

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