03 May www.adequacy.net
Having a successful marriage has to be one of the most rewarding joys we can share in life. Now, when you’re able to fulfill your craft through this partnership is surely another delight all on its own. Throughout their existence as a band, Brett and Rennie Sparks have made The Handsome Family a very lovable and loving enterprise. After fifteen years of making music they have now offered their next set of great, country-flavored music with Honey Moon.
All of this exceptionally solid music is a remarkably beautiful thing to witness. It’s not as if this is going to garner many new fans (if you were looking for a new sound, you barked up the wrong tree) but the music found on this — now their ninth — album is truly special. Rennie’s vivid style and terrific lyrics are tremendously carried out by Brett. Take “Love is Like,” a brooding, keyboard-heavy piece that finds Brett’s booming baritone in fashioned style. This is followed by “The Petrified Forest,” a song that is colored with metaphors and imagery abound. The slide guitar is a fitting touch and when Brett sings, “And I remember, I’ll always remember, when you held me in your beautiful arms,” your heart just has to palpitate with affection.
Their storied trademarks are firmly in place as Rennie takes the songwriting duties and Brett does his share with the music side. Furthermore, all of the artwork — which features animals all throughout — was all created by Rennie as well. This isn’t a concept album but it is an album rich with animalistic stories.
The opener, “Linger, Let Me Linger,” is a love song in Elvis Presley style that mentions everything from the way a spider spins its web to comparing the lovers to crickets chirping in the night. “My Friend” is a somber song about losing a loved one but it’s optimistic in its sentiment that they are always with you in spirit. With an americana flavor and an organ to boost, Brett sings about he notices the smallest details and then asks, “Were you with me then my friend? Are you with me now?”
One thing is for sure, as a songwriting team, the Sparks haven’t lost anything in terms of caliber. This is still honest, sincere music that is always pursuing something real and tangible. The surprising effect is how moving such simple music can be. The closing song, “The Winding Corn Maze,” places the focus back on the couple’s solid relationship and is a dream-like fantasy. A classical guitar delivers one of the album’s best moments and as Brett sings about getting on one knee, it’s obvious these two are having the time of their life.
Through it all, Honey Moon is yet another solid album in the Sparks’ outstanding catalog. Surely, a lot of notable musicians respect them (check out Andrew Bird’s great cover of “The Giant of Illinois” on the Dark Was the Night compilation) and one can only hope that many more fans will come aboard. With such topics covered as grief, love, mourning, relationships and so much more, there is some spiritual stuff going on here. And even when those spirits come out at night, they are always greeted with love and most of all, family.