16 Horsepower

Picture of 16 Horsepower

Secret South

16 Horsepower - Secret South ©2000 Razor & Tie
1. Clogger
2. Wayfaring Stranger
3. Cinder Alley
4. Burning Bush
5. Poor Mouth
6. Silver Saddle
7. Praying Arm Lane
8. Splinters
9. Just Like Birds
10. Nobody 'Cept You
11. Straw Foot

By the time Secret South came out in 2000, Sixteen Horsepower had all but perfected their darksome brand of deeply spiritual country-rock, allowing for far more in the ways of truly stirring backwoods atmosphere combined with the religious turmoil that had by this time become frontman/songwriter David Eugene Edwards’ trademark.

This is not Christian music in the vein of preachy Jesus freak wussy boys. Rather, this is religious music of the fire n’ brimstone, the-rapture-is-coming-so-ya’ll-better-take-heed variety, and with Edward’s emotional howling on the truly ass-kicking “Clogger”, one cannot help but think that this band is the real deal. The album itself winds and jags like an Ozark mountain path at night, with portentous stompers like the aforementioned “Clogger” and the violin-driven “Cinder Alley” interweaving with slower, more ominous tracks, such as the banjo-led “Straw Foot” and a re-imagining of the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger”. On another note, the band presents a particularly beautiful cover of Bob Dylan’s “Nobody ‘Cept You,” turning it into what sounds like a desperate petition to Heaven itself.

Spirituality and ideology in music are things that often overshadow the music itself, but like Nick Cave, David Eugene Edwards writes songs that are inseparable from his own religion and all the terror and self-doubt contained therein.

Review by Alec Head

Review date: 02/2008

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