Now Magazine

The eighth studio album by Albuquerque’s Handsome Family commemorates the 20th wedding anniversary of Brett and Rennie Sparks, the band’s two members. As such, it’s an album of love songs, making it a departure from the Gothic Americana subject matter of past efforts, which, the joke goes, always included at least one dead body.

Though the songs, which effortlessly blend country, bluegrass, folk and pop, are mostly under three minutes long, no one’s in a rush here. Each is gently strummed, sparsely drummed and deeply crooned by Brett. Rennie takes care of the lyrics (and a few sweet harmonies) and deftly avoids love’s clichés, comparing it instead to paper cups rolling down a windy street, a hole in the roof where an old sugar pine fell through, the sun glinting off a pickup truck’s smashed windshield.

Top track: Wild Wood

– Carla Gillis