Yorkshire Post

Friday, 22nd May 2009

THE Handsome Family are still out of pocket from the first time they played a gig in Leeds. After agreeing to perform for £50, they were handed a white envelope by an unscrupulous promoter – who then ran away because there was only £15 inside.With eight studio releases behind them, it's safe to assume that husband-and-wife team Brett and Rennie Sparks earn bigger sums these days, but bookers still get more than their money's worth. On tour to promote latest album Honey Moon, which marks two decades of married life, the tried and tested formula is unchanged. Rennie writes the lyrics and plays whichever instrument comes to hand. Brett writes the music and lets his booming growl do the rest. Together, they make some of the most beautiful sounds Americana has to offer, while offering wry observations on anything and everything.  Take Weightless Again, for example; surely the only song to successfully chart the demise of the American Indians – while describing drug overdoses, death-jumps from bridges, tuberculosis and mental illness – and still leave a smile on the listener's face.The set list is strong - No One Fell Asleep Alone; The Sad Milkman; My Sister's Tiny Hands – and punctuated with a steady supply of self-deprecating onstage banter. They bicker like any married couple, but it only adds to the fun. And new songs like Linger, Let Me Linger and The Loneliness of Magnets are proof that, even after 20 years, the spark is still there.- Rob Preece