Sixteen Horsepower

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Sixteen Horsepower

Folklore (Jetset)

Of the 10 wicked tracks on Sixteen Horsepower's new album Folklore, only four are originals -- a departure from the Denver trio's previous studio albums. Two tracks are by Hank Williams and the Carter Family, "Alone and Forsaken" and "Single Girl" respectively; the remaining four are traditionals, including a waltz sung in French, "La Robe a Parasol." Nothing's changed with the band, whose sound is conveniently described as Appalachian Goth, but Folklore is paced more deliberately than its three predecessors. Preacher's son David E. Edwards holds up the Bible as his gospel light, shining on "Hutterite Mile" and "Beyond the Pale," testifying that the world is a dark place, but hope is no longer bleak and unlikely. 16HP's trademark instrumentation, ominous as ever, is provided by Pascal Humbert and Jean-Yves Tolar as always, giving Folklore a spare, atmospheric feel on songs such as "Blessed Persistence" and "Flutter." When Edwards, Tolar, and Humbert come together on the traditionals ("Outlaw Song," "Horse Head Fiddle," "Sinnerman"), they're as tight as a gospel-tent revival band. Folklore has less of a sense of urgency than 16HP's previous recordings, but it seems to indicate the band is comfortable in its skin, albeit shifting around. Someone put Ry Cooder and David Edwards together and let them score a western. That would be a soundtrack to set the devil's boots afire.

***

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