- Released: April 4, 1996
- Label: Fontana A&M
Q - 5/97, p.1283 Stars (out of 5)
- "...It's edgy stuff, carved in religious phraseology with God-fearing lyrics to match. A dangerously infectious view of the world."
Option - 7-8/96, p.131
"...this trio's got its country blues down stone cold."
- 1.I Seen What I Saw
- 2.Black Soul Choir
- 3.Scrawled in Sap
- 4.Horse Head
- 5.Ruthie Lingle
- 6.Harm's Way
- 7.Black Bush
- 8.Heel on the Shovel
- 9.American Wheeze
- 10.Red Neck Reel
- 11.Prison Shoe Romp
- 12.Neck on the New Blade
- 13.Strong Man
16 Horsepower: David Eugene Edwards (vocals, guitar, banjo, bandoneon, lap steel); Keven Soll (acoustic bass, cello, background vocals); Jean-Yves Tola (drums, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Gordon Gano (fiddle).
Recorded at Ardent Studios, Memphis, Tennessee.
Recording information: Ardent Studios, Memphis, TN.
On SACKCLOTH 'N' ASHES, 16 Horsepower wade through a murky world of old-time sin and redemption. The band creates a distinctive hillbilly-gothic sound with the help of various vintage and handmade instruments, and songwriter David Eugene Edwards' haunted, atonal vocals. Edwards--who plays, among other things, the bandoneon (an early twentieth century accordion) and the banjo--is backed by the military-style drumming of Jean-Yves Tola, and Keven Soll on a flat-top, acoustic bass. The musical result is one part country, two parts Julee Cruise--particularly on songs such as "Horse Head," which features Edwards' voice in a desolate, lo-fi guise, sounding like a keening Tom Waits in hillbilly country. Thematically, this is darkly religious territory, full of death-related imagery and stern spirituality, set against a finely tuned, grim sense of drama. 16 Horsepower seem to hail from a long-ago era, with a horse-and-buggy vernacular that includes lines like these from "Black Bush": "These are the great dust bowl days/Just take a gander round ya/Everything in a wicked haze."