Sixteen Horsepower Folklore

On this first album after a year-long sabbatical, the goth-country trio sound more focused than ever before. Rather than rely on his over-the-top country preacher shtick, singer/songwriter David Eugene Edwards delves deeper into his craft here and has come up with a truly evocative Southern landscape dominated by outlaws and lost souls. Edwards still embodies the shady characters of each song, but there is a heavier burden of experience apparent in each of them that wasn't present on earlier albums. It's as if Edwards and company have learned the power of restraint, which adds an almost unbearable tension to the band's reading of the traditional "Alone And Forsaken" and their own "Beyond The Pale." The stories and characters are chilling in and of themselves and hardly need to be elaborated upon. Thankfully, because of this, the music is sparse and never intrusive. In fact, most of Folklore passes like a dream. Or maybe that's just the result of reading too many Southern Gothic novels, or watching Robert Mitchum in Night Of The Hunter one too many times. Either way this is the best Sixteen Horsepower album yet and, admittedly, the first one I've really enjoyed. (Jetset)