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Woven Hand

Prog Folk

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Woven Hand Woven Hand album cover
3.58 | 28 ratings | 6 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Good Hand (4:10)
2. My Russia (3:43)
3. Blue Pail Fever (4:58)
4. Glass Eye (3:00)
5. Wooden Brother (5:06)
6. Ain't no Sunshine (2:54)
7. Story and Pictures (4:54)
8. Arrowhead (3:26)
9. Your Russia (4:15)
10. Last Fist (4:12)

Total time: 40:38

Line-up / Musicians

- David Eugene Edwards / vocals, banjola, mandolin, guitar

Guest musicians:
- Steve Taylor / guitar (1, 2, 7, 8, 9)
- Daniel McMahon / piano, vocals, organ (5, 8)

Releases information

CD GRCD 553 - Glitterhouse Records 2002 (Germany)/Fargo Records (France)
CD SF009 - Soundsfamilyre 2003 (USA)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
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WOVEN HAND Woven Hand ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(68%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

WOVEN HAND Woven Hand reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars With David Eugene Edwards’ gothabilly band 16 Horsepower on sabbatical, he recorded a solo album in 2001 under the name Woven Hand. While this album has some of the same drone-and-doom feel of the 16 Horsepower albums, Edwards also emphasizes acoustic instrumentation in the form of a banjola, mandolin, pump organ, piano and guitar. The lyrics are deeply religious and poetic, but not in the sort of way his grandfather’s Nazarene congregation sang. These are dark emotions, rather raw, and fully acknowledge the depravity in all humanity in a starkly black and white manner.

While this is mostly a solo project, Edwards invites 16 Horsepower guitarist Steve Taylor and Lilium keyboardist Daniel McMahon into the studio for several tracks. This lineup would debut live in Edwards’ hometown of Denver in the winter of 2001, followed by a brief European tour and an early 2002 release of the album in Germany and France. The album was released the following year in the United States.

Despite the dark acknowledgements of a creator and of humanity’s destitute nature, this album is a fascinating musical experience. The grunge-like mumbling vocals and drone of both electronic and acoustic instruments set a menacing tone, while Edwards manages to interject some creative musical influences in the form of Appalachian and Eastern European folk, an almost neo-prog tempo, and exquisitely sparse acoustic strings.

Lyrically Edwards is probably best compared to some of the very early compositions of former Kansas and current Proto-Kaw composer Kerry Livgren. While Edwards’ music and lyrics are much darker than most of Livgren’s work and his arrangements are much less bombastic, Kerry’s very early compositions that found their way onto the 2002 Early Recordings of Kansas compilation have the same vein of poetically serious contemplation as many of these tracks.

There is a strong feeling of winding dirt roads, dilapidated farmhouses, and of plain old folk lethargically going about the business of living their way toward death in this music. Edwards has been on a traveling musical adventure since his early teens more than twenty years ago, and the lines of rode-hard wisdom and experience show in both his face and his voice. This is not music for the timid of soul.

Tracks like “Blue Pail Fever” and “Wooden Brother” mix blues and country guitar with hillbilly banjola picking and drone to create a captivating mood that is quite soul-piercing. Other tracks like “Story and Pictures” and “Last Fist” are more story-telling, very stark and centered on banjola, mandolin and acoustic guitar strumming. Always the struggle of skyward vision amid a world viewed as damned comes through as strong and almost suffocating. There’s a certain tint of Dylan in the approach here, but while Dylan embraced the world he lived in with all its foibles, Edwards takes more of a detached view as an observer rather than partaker. Either way, you can’t walk down a dirt road without becoming soiled.

The short rendition of Bill Withers’ R&B classic “Ain’t no Sunshine” is the standout track here, mostly because it is the only cover tune and also the only track whose lyrics focus on worldly rather than heavenly concepts. This is a short version – Edwards would expand it greatly with a lengthy version on his 2003 ‘Blush’ CD under the co-title “Animalitos”.

I’m reminded of an old Vonnegut short story about a man who lives a pristine and straight-laced life during the day, but is found at night playing torrid blues tunes on piano at a brothel. That’s the impression Edwards gives off with this album. This is a fascinating musical recording for fans of American folk music (Johnny Cash fans will love it). Four stars for me and highly recommended on its own merits, although this is a sound that will not likely appeal to prog purists. No matter.


Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Originally not intended as more than just a one shot thing, while 16 HP was on hold for feud reasons, Woven Hand's debut album is one that sounds still much like many indie/alternative rock groups with definite folk tendencies. With an amusing computer-derived artwork gracing the entire booklet, this first album is mostly DEE by himself, with a few guests, such as Taylor on guitar on half the tracks and McMahon on keys for a third of the album. Musically, this album is much related to the late 16 HP albums, offering a similar "sound" that is easily confused between the two projects. In WH, the acoustic string instruments are more prominent than on 16 HP, but the folk is not over-powering by any means.

The lead-off Good Hand track sounds like a very positive and folk-inspired U2-type of rock, which actually misleads a bit from WH's usual music program. Indeed the following My Russia is a much darker tale (that will find also its way into the next album, along with the Ain't No Sunshine cover, Story & Pictures and the other Russia tracks), but never really gothic (at least imho) and staying in fairly short song format. Faves of mine include Blue Pail Fever and Wooden Brother, but also most common tracks you'll find in their next album. The diminutive Last Fist closes the album in a neat fashion, a very folk solo affair, much like Glass Eye, where mandolin and banjo rules.

This "debut" album holds much material on other albums (or more like other albums have re-worked material from this debut), especially on Blush Music, but I find that generally the repeat performances more spectacular there than in this disc. Better get first Blush Music than this debut, partly because, past the common tracks, the non-communal material in better on the second album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. WOVEN HAND play a dark melancholic brand of Folk music with lots of strummed and picked guitar, banjola and mandolin. The lyrics are God inspired and meaningful.

"The Good Hand" is one of my top three on this album. There is this good beat with mandolin as vocals come in that remind me of ANATHEMA's Vincent Cavanagh. Piano 2 1/2 minutes in. I find this track to be very uplifting. "My Russia" is darker with deeper vocals. "Blue Pail Fever" is another top three for me. After a brief spacey intro vocals and strummed guitar take over. Organ 2 minutes in and 3 1/2 minutes in is a nice touch. This is such an emotional track. Organ ends it as well. "Glass Eye" is the most country-like. The tempo picks up after a minute. "Wooden Brother" has a good chorus with a fuller sound than the verses.

"Ain't No Sunshine" is a cover of the Bill Withers song. This is a sadder version except for the chorus. "Story And Pictures" has these mellotron-like sounds early. Piano and vocals join in. Guitar follows. "Arrowhead" opens with a vocal sample as piano and guitar take over. Drums join in as well. "Your Russia" is the other top three for me. Deep sounds with vocals to match as heavy drums come in. Great sound 3 1/2 minutes in with vocal melodies. "Last Fist" has these vibes-like sounds before guitar takes over with vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Very minimilistic even for this band.

I agree with Sean Trane that there is a definite Indie / Alternative flavour to their music. I kept thinking of that on and off throughout this record. As melancholic as this is, I really found a lot of uplifting moments.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In a hiatus between 16 Horsepower releases, their singer and song writer Dave Eugene Edwards released the first album of his side-project Wovenhand. A project sitting somewhere inbetween 16 Horsepower's previous magnum opus Secret South and their swan song Folklore.

Wovenhand brings emotive country and folk music that is covered with a thick and brooding Gothic flavour. Edwards is not only a huge fan of Bob Dylan but also of Joy Division, and while you won't hear musical references to that band the similarity in mood and intensity is very striking indeed. It's like Joy Division played with only mandolins, banjo and other acoustic string instruments, so I'm sure this band could appeal much to fans of Antimatter and Anathema's acoustic moments.

Wovenhand is a great band but never reached the heights of 16 Horsepower for me. Their albums are a bit too samey generally. 16 Horsepower usually balanced their dark atmospheres with more energetic and rocking songs. Wovenhand is more of a one-dimensional ore one-trick band in a way. The songs on the debut are very strong though and would almost push it to 4 stars. 3.5 it is.

PS. Did anyone else hear an echo of the The Musical Box (the point where it gets into the first heavy section) in the strummed opening chords of Arrowhead? A coincidence probably.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars WOVEN HAND's debut sounds like an alt country group ensnared in the vortex of a Gothic cathedral. It's eerie, macabre, and dangerous music with oddly comforting lyrics to Christian and Atheist alike. All these features may well have been borrowed from the mother ship "16 Horsepower", whom I have yet to hear, so clearly a knowledge of that band is no prerequisite to enjoyment of this offshoot.

The instrumentation is somewhat sparse and skewed to the acoustic, but with colorful and simple keyboard accompaniment. The melodies are rich and foreboding while uplifting, and can be compared to the best of well known and obscure bands like DOORS, JOHNNY CASH, JOY DIVISION, PROMETHEAN, MEN THEY COULDN'T HANG, DEAD CAN DANCE, and even occasionally the more brooding Mike Pinder centric MOODY BLUES ("Your Russia") and the paranoia of early RUPERT HINE ("Wooden Brother"). While the overwhelming mood is morose, "Pale Blue Fever", "Glass Eye", and "Arrow Head" are all relatively uptempo, the latter beginning with a celtic inspired jig of sorts, or at least WOVEN HAND's closest approximation of such.

If there is a flaw here, it might be that the lack of tracks that I consider downright awesome, but, on the flip side, it's all good or better, mostly better. This is soul saving music that connects viscerally to one's intellect. I couldn't pray for more.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars It's good to see Woven Hand in the prog archives. Nowadays, Woven Hand is a full band, but when this, the debut album was released, it was centered around one person, David Eugene Edwards, who was/is the front man for the alt-country band 16 Horsepower. I always felt that 16 Horsepower was a step above a lot of alt-country bands because they were always a little more daring than most. They ventured in some new territory by introducing gothic and psychedelic elements into their music. Woven Hand was formed because in 2002 when this album was released, 16 Horsepower was experiencing some issues in the band, so David went his own way and made his own album. To me, this has the dark attitude of some of Johnny Cash's darker sounds, but more modern and fuller.

Like I said, it is mostly about him in this album. He is accompanied by Steve Taylor and Daniel McMahon on some of these tracks and this adds a fuller sound to the album overall, but even in the more sparse tracks, there is a lot of inventiveness. Things can sound a little same-y at times on this album, but not enough to make it ever get boring. This is known as neo-folk and it does have progressive elements throughout in that David is not afraid to explore the genre. There is a bit of the gothic element here, carried over from his other band, and it is true that this is dark folk. But there is a lot of spiritual uplift in the lyrics among the dark sounds. It's like a huge spark of hope in the middle of a stark landscape. And it all works so well. Minor keys are used a lot, the vocals are dark sounding, and, except for a few exceptions like the banjo in "Glass Eye" and the piano hooks in the beautiful "Stormy and Pictures", the songs can have a slight drone feeling even though drones are not used. "Arrow Head" has a nice, almost upbeat Celtic-Western lilt but still with that minor key sound. So even with the overall sound, there is still plenty of variety and surprises. Even though it is more of a solo album, it doesn't sound like one.

I love the sound and the attitude on this album and how well it mixes with the folk element. With this band being on the archives, I would not be surprised to see "Fleet Foxes" or "Grizzly Bear" eventually added on the site under Prog Folk, and I have hope that maybe they will show up here some day. Woven Hand is still active and have released several albums since this album. They have incorporated more progressive elements as time goes on and are now a full band. Things get better, but that's definitely not to say that this album isn't great. I still love the starkness, David's voice is perfect for this music, and the clash of the promise of hope against the dark soundscape is very moving and effective. I can't call it essential, that might be reserved for later albums, but I still think this is an excellent album nonetheless.

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