"He's taken our stripes on his back on down to here/I cannot walk if you did not walk/I cannot breathe if you did not breathe"
— from "Pure Clob Road"
The term "alternative" has long been overused to describe music, but Webster could well include 16 Horsepower in his definition. Multi–instrumentalist David E. Edwards formed the band in 1992, later signing with A&&M in 1995 for their first EP. Their latest project, Olden, covers those three years, 1992-95. Consisting of two parts early demos and one part early live tracks, the album is intended for devout fans, but also serves as a fair introduction to a unique sounding band. Most of the material can be found on two of 16 Horsepower's most acclaimed albums, Low Estate and Sackcloth 'n' Ashes.
Many have described the music as "country gothic" and "alternative folk." Edwards and company combine the folk/country instrumentation with dark and brooding melodies, akin to the Violent Femmes or, oddly enough, Radiohead if they went Americana. Edwards's despairing cracked tenor sounds like Bill Mallonee (Vigilantes of Love) crossed with Thom Yorke (Radiohead). You know you're in for something unusual when the album opens with a distorted mouth harp and Edwards's trademark bandoneon (similar to an accordion) on "American Wheeze."
16 Horsepower's audience is primarily secular, yet many of its lyrics are inspired by Scripture. The band hasn't really impacted Christian media and retail, but Edwards, the grandson of a Nazarene preacher and raised Baptist, did play at the 2002 Cornerstone Christian music festival with his side band, Woven Hand.
He's certainly not shy about his faith, saying, "I am a Christian. God the Father is everything to me. I can do nothing worth anything without ...1