Music dealing with spirituality, especially themes Christian in ethos, struggle to set a high standard for artistic achievement. David Eugene Edwards' current project, Woven Hand, is unlike most that attempt to sing about the Divine. The message on Ten Stones (which was released this past September) is generally the same as with any recording by Edwards and company; Old Testament imagery coupled with the ugliness of sin and beauty of redemption. However, Ten Stones is much heavier sounding than previous albums. Ten Stones is hypnotic, forceful, and inevitably haunting. The musicianship, as it is with any Woven Hand album (also see 16 Horsepower), is incredible. The layering is rich and each song dwells beside the next naturally while heavy bass, raw guitars and pushing drums aggressively and fiercely weave an explosively majestic album. Edwards' deep, untamed voice allows his words to find their appropriate place. When he sings: "All these tears/Gather together/Down your cheek/ Your neck and feathers" on "Iron Feather," it's a simple reminder that few sound quite like this.
Woven Hand is not Christian radio; rather Nick Cave meets Flannery O'Connor in Old European tradition. The attraction to Ten Stones is twofold; musicianship and how affected Edwards sounds about his faith. The songs on Ten Stones are well-constructed, spiritually intense, and focused enough to not feel ignorant or preachy, even if the aim is to testify God's majesty and man's shortcomings.
Few albums this past year have yielded so many continuous listens. Edwards is so serious and passionate about what he sings, this album not only sets a standard most secular artists fail to reach, but Ten Stones finds a place where most religious themed music has not been able to rest; within the realm of creativity and beauty. Whether or not you agree with Edwards' subject matter is beside the point. I mean, how many reggae listeners actually practice Rastafarianism? - Ethan Barrons