16 Horsepower's second release for Jetset is a collection meant to illustrate the Colorado band's stylistic trajectory since its 1992 inception. Included are 12 previously unreleased demos or alternate versions of 16HP that later appeared on wax; for example, the haunting, bandoneon-led "American Wheeze" (from 1996's Sackcloth 'n' Ashes) appears here twice. A 1993 demo blends the bandoneon lead with a twanging Jew's harp, but a version one year later has moved much closer to the hysterical quality of the eventual album version. David Eugene Edwards' vocal similarity to Jeff Buckley is even more apparent during a spare, driving reading of "South Pennsylvania Waltz." Meanwhile, a live take on the Low Estate track "Sac of Religion" (culled from a 1994 date at Denver's Mercury Café) is as desperate as a conductor trying in vain to slow a runaway train. The nice thing about Olden is how well it functions as a cohesive release, considering it's been drawn from multiple sources. This is likely due to the hypnotic quality of Edwards' muse, which draws inspiration from that darkness where religion meets desperation, and the infamous crossroads where the devil makes his deals. As Edwards himself says about his music in an included interview snippet, "Whether you like it or not, it's going to affect you." Olden might be a good place to find out how it does.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus