Picks and Pans Review: Sackcloth Washes

updated 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

16 Horsepower

Hold on to your 10-gallon hats, folks, 'cause this Denver trio has rustled up the most haunting, lingering sound you're likely to hear all year. They've been branded a kind of Echo and the Bunnymen gone C&W, dominated by vocalist David Eugene Edwards' doleful wail, which floats over the creepy-sounding acoustic country melodies like a cloud of gun-smoke after a shootout.

Whatever their major-label debut is ultimately tagged, this is rugged American music, with spare instrumentation, like Edwards' spooky slide guitar on "I Seen What I Saw." Drummer Jean Yves Tola (whoa, pardner, where did the Frenchman come from?) guides the taut threesome through tempo changes like a sidewinder skipping along the hot desert sand while bassist Keven Soil lays down sturdy lines with his acoustic upright. The pervasive themes of death and carnal sin fit snugly with the eerie proceedings. "I am an honest man, when I'm not lyin,' " bellows Edwards, buoyed by his own swaying bandonion on "Harm's Way." The dark myths and legends of the Old West burst alive again in the hands of these wonderfully obsessed and original musicians. (A&M)

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