13 Jan MEET THE HANDSOME FAMILY
THE HANDSOME FAMILY is husband and wife Brett Sparks (music) and Rennie Sparks (lyrics) who live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
They have long considered their music to be Romantic in the 19th century sense of the word: full of an awed sense of emotion in the face of nature’s mysteries and this has never before been clearer than on their eighth album Honey Moon – a collection of songs written to celebrate their twentieth year of marriage. It is, according to Rennie, a love song to the world that takes place under bowed branches and deep within winding corn mazes. Lovers kiss in dripping wet caves and call to each other from trembling mountain peaks. They sigh on windy drawbridges and weep silver puddles in the street.
Musically, the Brother duos of country (Delmore, Louvin, Monroe, Stanley, Everly) are always a big influence on Brett’s use of harmony (as can be heard on When You Whispered) while vocal groups such as the Mills Brothers, The Inkspots and The Platters became a primary motivating force In addition several songs (The Loneliness of Magnets and Linger, Let Me Linger for example) explore the romanticism of Tin Pan Alley -all without a trace of irony.
All such musical influences, combined with Rennie’s lyrical exploration of all aspects of romance – be it spiritual or pastoral; animal, vegetable or mineral, result in an album of love songs like no other heard before.
The Handsome Family’s seventh CD, Last Days of Wonder (June. 2006) was one of Mojo’s top ten Americana Albums for 2006 and called “an unqualified triumph” by Uncut. Of their sixth CD, Singing Bones, The Independent wrote, “Rarely, even in the fatalistic world of country music, has the precarious mystery of mortality been captured with such poetic grace as on Singing Bones.”
They have appeared in the movie, I’m Your Man (2005), a tribute to Leonard Cohen as well as Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2004) and on BBC 2’s Later With Jools Holland and The Culture Show. Countless radio appearances include several spots with Jonathan Ross, Radio 4’s Loose Ends and Radcliffe & Maconie on Radio 2. Their songs have been covered by many artists, most notibly: Andrew Bird (whose version of Don’t Be Scared recently featured in the movie The Promotion), Christy Moore, The Sadies, Sally Timms and Cerys Matthews – who not only recorded Weightless Again for Cockahoop but sang the song in the jungle during her stint on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.
The Handsome Family record all their songs in a converted garage studio at the back of their Albuquerque home. In their live performances they are sometimes up to a six-piece band and sometimes just Brett and Rennie. They have toured extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The new album Honey Moon is released April 20th 2009.