Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tim Hinely BLURTS About Honey Moon

Since the release of their debut record in 1995 (Odessa) the Handsome Family (married couple Brett and Rennie Sparks) have explored the depths of the human soul with songs about drifters, murderers, and even Aunt Barbara "who went crazy in the 70's, wrote poems to Jimmy Carter but forgot to feed her kids" (from "Lake Geneva on 1996's Milk and Scissors) and on this, record #8, they do not disappoint. This record was written to celebrate their 20 years of marriage and as someone who has been married for not even half that long I toast them for their longevity - and the music, too. The band's music has been called Gothic Americana and that seems as good a place to start as any, Brett writes the music and sings most of the sings while Rennie writes the lyrics (she doesn't forget the dark humor) and they have rounded up a batch of terrific musicians in their adopted hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico (where they moved to several years ago after many years in Chicago).

The songs on Honey Moon are just a gorgeously haunting as anything they have done previously. The opener "Linger, Let Me Linger" adds some lovely cello to the proceedings (which already include Brett's rich baritone) while "Little Sparrows' adds some zippy pedal steel which gives it a completely different feel. "When You Whispered" is pure Carter Family country and the nearly perfect, "A Thousand Diamond Rings" is the record's best song (that has a murky, Calexico-ish feel to it but these guys were doing this stuff long before Calexico). Yet another terrific chapter in a book that I hope these guys never finish.