When fans think of 16 Horsepower founder David Eugene Edwards, the singer-songwriter behind Wovenhand, "accessibility" isn't the first word that leaps to mind. Nonetheless, Ten Stones comes across as quite user-friendly — by his standards, at least. Edwards's key collaborator appears to be Norway's Emil Nikolaisen, whose brawny guitar helps transform a talented collection of players — among them guitarist Peter van Laerhoven, drummer Ordy Garrison and bassist Pascal Humbert — into something resembling a rock band. "The Beautiful Axe," "Not One Stone" and many other tracks here expand upon the extreme arrangements of previous Wovenhand offerings without diminishing the dark severity of Edwards's vision. In some ways, the album is a compromise — but the approach opens up the music to more possibilities instead of collapsing in on itself.


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