16 Horsepower


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Returning after a short leave of absence from the music industry, 16 Horsepower returns with a vengeance on Folklore. Channeling the desperation and depression of the Southern gothic movement better than most artists, they have reached a point where their music has evolved into a series of edgy Western soundscapes. This is fine, as they take traditional country instruments and utilize them to craft Bauhaus-esque doom anthems. "Single Girl" breaks the mold, sounding almost upbeat as singer David Eugene Edwards surrounds himself with layered vocals and a bouncy bass-driven tempo. And "La Robe a Parasol," the final track, is a lilting French waltz that finishes off the album with a last glimmer of hope. But for the most part, this is a bleak journey into the backwoods, an aural equivalent to Clint Eastwood's grizzled Oscar-winning Unforgiven. Like that film, this album has the same depressing resignation to a poor and unrewarding life and rarely attempts to glimpse the bright side of things. And much like that film, the whole of the album also leaves the listener relieved, acting as a cathartic view of rural depression. Although some fans may be disappointed with 16 Horsepower's move away from the frantic drive of the group's older material, this is a landmark in the subgenre of alt-country goth. It's not a new direction for 16 Horsepower, but instead the band has further refined its sound and made it even more brooding and ominous than before.

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