After taking some nighttime cold medicine and falling asleep to Lawrence of Arabia, you awaken bleary-eyed alongside an endless stretch of desert highway, the endlessly distant horizon broken up only by the vague figures of far off mesas. Stumbling to your feet, you lurch past the desiccated remains of an antique cantina just as a dirt-crusted radio sputters to life with the hints of an old, familiar song, rousing you back to normal consciousness.
That, in a nutshell, is what the Threshingfloor is like.
As the title implies, we see David Eugene Edwards threshing the sounds of two previous albums, Consider the Birds and Ten Stones, culling his wheat from the chaff. The result is a successful fusion of the two disparate sounds, a melding of the apocalyptic blues riffs of Ten Stones with the desolate ambience of Consider the Birds. As always, Edwards brings to the album a panoply of indigenous instruments, even bringing aboard flautist Peter Eri to play traditional Hungarian shepherd’s flute.
Nowhere does the confluence of sounds show more prominently, and work more cohesively, than on B-sider “Terra Haute.” Starting with a driving riff reminiscent of Ten Stone’s B-side backing Edward’s Tiresian lyrics, it’s at once made softer and more expansive with the addition of the flute and mandolin, creating the impression it’s just rolled off the plains on the tail of a wild, west wind and tumbled into your ears, whispering of ill portents. The album as a whole is infused with that same sense of natural torpor, that impending doom is just beneath your feet.
However, as the album draws to a close two songs later, Edwards totally shifts gears with “Denver City,” a honky-tonk, olde timey revival, complete with homemade hand claps. It’s almost as if the whole of the previous tracks were merely a mirage, and we were the whole time, not meandering the markets of Constantinople or galloping across the Great Plains, but rather had hit our head during a brawl in some juke joint in Oklahoma.
At the very least, at a time when most folk acts are either overhauling or abandoning their old sound (like Iron and Wine’s new stinker Kiss Each Other Clean) Wovenhand not only makes a successful return to their roots, but returns to the road with a forthcoming tour with Tool and appearance at this year’s Roadburner Festival.
8.0 / 10
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