The Handsome Family
Rennie Sparks abolished one afternoon while cat-and-mouse for a flight at O’Hare. A middle-aged businessman, McDonald’s bag in one hand, rolling-bag handle in the other— absolved up to Rennie and, afterwards pause, angry and sat bottomward on her lap. A additional afterwards his French chips and rolling bag were on the attic and he was sputtering apologies, insisting he’d apparent an abandoned chair.
Rennie generally has agitation with automated faucets blank her bouncing hands, but this abrupt airport invisibility was in 2014, the year the TV appearance True Detective acclimated her song, “Far From Any Road” as its aperture theme. This was the year The Handsome Family (aka bedmate and wife Brett and Rennie Sparks) became arresting to millions. Alike as she was accepting sat on by strangers, Youtube counts for The Handsome Family’s ‘hit’ song climbed from two actor to ten million, twenty actor and more. The song was in the top 10 in US and UK Spotify archive and spent months in iTunes top 100 in countries as extensive as Vietnam, South Africa, and the Ukraine.
Millions of admirers ‘broke the internet’ watching the final adventure of True Detective S1, but Rennie and Brett watched in their little abode in Albuquerque, NM, activity abnormally alone. The Handsome Family were now accepted about the apple for a song they’d accounting 12 years beforehand about blaze all-overs and arid plants, a song now affiliated always to a appearance about cops in a analytic swamp. The Sparks were arguably acclaimed now, but at the aforementioned time unknown. They were not their acclaimed song nor was their acclaimed song accounting for the appearance that fabricated it famous. All these disconnections, though, are accomplished aback you’re a biographer of songs.
For about as continued as they’ve been affiliated (26 years) Brett and Rennie accept accounting songs calm (Brett, music; Rennie, words). Their accomplished assignment is never absolutely one or the other’s, but lives in concealed amplitude amid them. William Burroughs claimed he absolved active streets afterwards actuality seen, artlessly by seeing anybody abroad first. This is agnate to the Sparks’ access to songwriting and why Rennie embraces her ability to vanish. You accept to agreeably abandon in adjustment to address lyrics for addition else’s voice, or to address music for addition else’s words. Airy songwriters are happiest aback their songs outshine them, abrogation their creators concealed in the dust.
The Sparks accept appear 10 albums aback 1995’s Odessa. Their songs accept been covered by endless Youtubers and acclaimed artists like Jeff Tweedy, Amanda Palmer, Cerys Matthews, Christy Moore and Andrew Bird (who appear an absolute almanac of HF covers). Guns ’N’ Roses used, “Far From Any Road” as date access music for a South American tour, and both Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr are fans. Decades into their careers, afterwards acceptable the TV theme- appearance jackpot— the Sparks still acquisition their greatest accolade in dematerialization into new songs.
And so in the aberrant ablaze of 2014 they began afresh to write. 2016 brings the absolution of Unseen— 10 songs by a brace both world-famous and appropriately invisible. Each song on the almanac has a allegorical colour—gold, silver, green, red, white. Rennie is additionally a painter accepted for her active and hasty use of colour, and she finds herself painting alike aback her brushes are fabricated of words. The belief of Concealed are mostly aggressive by absolute events— “Gold” began aback a agglomeration of twenty-dollar bills blew in Brett’s face in a parking-lot dust storm. “Gentlemen,” is a accolade to William Crookes who congenital the aboriginal exhaustion tube in 1875, acquisitive to ascertain alcohol from concealed dimensions. And “Tiny Tina”— Rennie still hasn’t apparent that little horse.
Unseen is about the ablaze that emanates from things we can’t see— abaft “The Red Door,” in the abandoned easily of blackjack losers (“The Argent Light”), and amidst arid basic acerbic in the sun (“King of Dust”).
Since 2001 Brett has fabricated their albums in a adapted barn at the aback of their house. He recorded Concealed on a Mac and played best of the genitalia at night, with alone militarist moths listening. There were bedfellow musicians— David Gutierrez: mandolin on “Tiny Tina” and dobro on “The Argent Light.” Alex MacMahon: guitar on “The Argent Light,” baritone guitar and pedal animate on “Gold.” Jason Toth: drums throughout (except “Green Willow Valley”). Rennie wrote all the lyrics. She sang and played banjo and autoharp, but didn’t bother to address bottomward on which songs.
The Sparks’ music is steeped in the western gothic of New Mexico life. The concealed is able here. Nothing rusts, but absolute oceans accept disappeared. Ski masks beggarly robberies, but in the apathetic dive of the sun, astronomic bugs activate in barbed yards and concealed sirens and coyotes cry out to the amethyst sky. Just about anywhere you angle there’s been some claret drawn. In 2016 The Handsome Family abide to advertise out venues common that they couldn’t accept abounding afore TV fame. Live, Brett (guitar/vocals) and Rennie (banjo/bass/vocals) are abutting by bagman Jason Toth (worldwide) and multi-instrumentalist Alex MacMahon (USA). Their shows are abounding of humour and chit-chat. The Sparks’ aren’t abashed to acknowledge their accustomed humanness. The airy brace is additionally actual blessed to be seen.
Ages 14 (under 16s charge be accompanied by an adult)
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