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Handsome Family - Unseen

  by Keith How

published: 30 / 9 / 2016

Handsome Family - Unseen
Label: Loose Music
Format: CD


Consistent latest album from the Handsome Family, the band of husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks

The Handsome Family consist of Brett and Rennie Sparks and have been wandering up and down the lost highways of America since the mid nineties. They have released ten albums during this time each one full of surreal lyricism enveloped in a rather gentle alt. country setting. The Sparks sky rocketed from relative obscurity into the spotlight when their song 'Far From Any Road' was chosen to be the theme to the first series of the brilliant 'True Detective'. Thankfully the all too brief flirtation with the fame game seems to have not changed them at all. This new release has a healthy slice of the laconic world weariness we have come to love. Now residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Sparks invite the listener to join them into a world of back yards, gambling, trailer parks and strange landscapes. 'Gentlemen', for instance, is an odd tale of trying to detect spirits in another dimension while echoing the Americana of the Band’s early works. It is fair to say that 'Unseen' breaks no new ground but then why should it? As with all Handsome Family albums, nothing is hurried which enables the storytelling to become accessible and intriguing. Their America is not sleek cars , L.A. swimming pools and celebrity TV, but seems to find them grabbing a six pack from the gas station and wandering home heads full of strange desert static bouncing around the vast open skies. Often tagged Southern Gothic they reject labels as such and continue to plough their own furrow telling tales of strange happenings and unusual goings on. 'Unseen' has a hypnotic consistency that, in keeping with previous albums, is very attractive. Rennie Sparks' bass lines are classic country while David Gutierrez contributes some fine mandolin and dobro. Alex MacMahon plays guitar, baritone and pedal steel. As well as writing all the lyrics and playing bass, Rennie also adds banjo and autoharp. Jason Toth provides some restrained drumming. Brett Sparks recorded the album in his home studio “at night” which explains the weightless otherworldliness that conjours up the idea of a bottle of bourbon, a packet of Lucky Strike, a brilliant imagination and looking out into the desert night sky from his porch. A fine record.

Track Listing:-
1 Gold
2 The Silver Light
3 Back In My Day
4 Tiny Tina
5 Underneath The Falls
6 The Sea Rose
7 The Red Door
8 Gentlemen
9 King Of Dust
10 Green Willow Valley

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Interview (2013)
Handsome Family - Interview
New Mexico husband-and-wife Americana duo the Handsome Family talk to Richard Lewis at a show in Liverpool about their critically acclaimed latest album 'Wilderness'

live reviews

Memorial Hall, Sheffield, 19/3/2105
Handsome Family - Memorial Hall, Sheffield, 19/3/2105
Nicky Crewe enjoys husband-and-wife duo the Handsome Family's unusual Gothic-tinged Americana a gig at the Memorial Hall in Sheffield

digital downloads


Wilderness (2013)
Fabulous combination of Southern Gothic-inspired folk and country on tenth album from husband-and-wife duo, the Handsome Family
Honey Moon (2009)

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