16 Horsepower

Thursday, April 8, at the Grog Shop.

. .
Sixteen Horsepower harnesses a brooding, forbidding sound like the approaching clouds of a dark, Pentecostal storm promising to wash the sin from these lands, singer David Eugene Edwards' parched tenor lording above the trad-country twang like a ministering wind of judgment. From their haunting, desolate electrified set pieces (think Joy Division if they grew up in West Virginia) to their groaning acoustic laments blending bluegrass, Irish folk, and No Depression country, 16 Horsepower tends to the darker sides of the heart. Edwards twists tales of love and hate, testifying, "I have seen you walkin' in your husband's way/Girl I will have you more" on "Scrawled in Sap" and beseeching "The Lord clear my head/Before once again I scar the soul of that girl in my head" on the haunting "Brimstone Rock." Edwards' lyrical fascinations with pride, redemption, and immorality echo Will Oldham, though sterner, with more of Nick Cave's gothic flair. Live, Edwards' age-old, miked-acoustic guitars and the religious lyrical overtones combine with the band's relentless energy to recall a gospel tent show revival from another place and time.
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