Photo: Val Hollingsworth
After two decades of marriage, love remains a strange and wild thing for Brett and Rennie Sparks, the country-folk duo known as the Handsome Family. On their new album, Honey Moon (Carrot Top), which marks their 20th anniversary, love is a thorny bush twisting around a chain-link fence, an underwater vine tugging at frightened feet, and a buzzing fly that seems drunk on fermenting apples. The tunes are just as intoxicating, as Brett's twanging baritone blends with Rennie's ghostly croon.
Though the Handsomes draw on Depression-era strains of folk music, Honey Moon is sensual and celebratory. It's also a kooky hymn to nature: "Darling, My Darling" takes an insect's point of view, and "Wild Wood" imagines life in a cave as wolves wail outside. "Hawk moths are sipping the night-blooming rose," Brett sings in "June Bugs," "a honey as sweet as the moon's sugar glow." A toast to the wonderfully weird Handsome Family: May their musical honeymoon never end.