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The Handsome Family

Friday 3rd March 2017

Courtney Marie Andrews

At Concorde 2

Doors 7:00 pm

Price £15 + booking fee / £17

Melting Vinyl presents…

Husband-and-wife duo the Handsome Family has been labeled both alt-country and traditionalist, but truthfully their often-dark music lies in a unique space somewhere in between, blending the sounds of traditional country and bluegrass (and, especially, murder ballads) into a more modern scenery. They return with their new album ‘Unseen’.

Vocalist and composer Brett Sparks hails from Texas, where he studied music and briefly worked around the oil rigs. By the mid-’90s, he resided in Chicago with his wife Rennie Sparks, a fiction writer originally from Long Island. Brett persuaded Rennie to write lyrics for him, leading to the unusual and striking form of the Handsome Family’s songs — evocative scenes and brief tales (of both the daydream and ghost story varieties) in lieu of the standard verse-chorus-verse structure. Their new album ‘Unseen’ (out September 16) is 10 songs with the guiding theme of colour; telling stories mostly inspired by real events, exploring the light which emanates from things we can’t see.

Since 2001 Brett has made their albums in a converted garage at the back of their house. He recorded Unseen on a Mac and played most of the parts at night, with only hawk moths listening. There were guest musicians— David Gutierrez: mandolin on “Tiny Tina” and dobro on “The Silver Light.” Alex MacMahon: guitar on “The Silver Light,” baritone guitar and pedal steel on “Gold.” Jason Toth: drums throughout (except “Green Willow Valley”).

The Sparks’ music is steeped in the western gothic of New Mexico life. The unseen is powerful here. Nothing rusts, but entire oceans have disappeared. Ski masks mean robberies, but in the slow dive of the sun, enormous bugs awaken in thorny yards and unseen sirens and coyotes cry out to the purple sky. Just about anywhere you stand there’s been some blood drawn.

“Haunting, primal and strangely heroic” —THE TIMES

“Weightless Again”—100 best songs ever written about heartbreak” — THE GUARDIAN

+ Support from Courtney Marie Andrews

“It’s not uncommon for a female songwriter to draw comparisons to Joni Mitchell – if you’re a woman of a certain age with a guitar and a few folk songs under your belt people try to connect the dots. What is uncommon though is to find an artist truly worthy of the association. Courtney Marie Andrews an Arizona-born songwriter who now calls Seattle home is one of those artists.” – AMERICAN SONGWRITER

“Plenty of vocalists can sing with power and some can sing with convincing subtlety. There aren’t very many who can do both in the same breath. Emmylou Harris can and PJ Harvey too in a different way. Neko Case is among the very few who has developed the ability as her career has progressed. That’s rarified company for sure but it’s where Courtney Marie Andrews belongs with her latest.” – PASTE MAGAZINE

“This is a record that deserves some mainstream attention and should catapult Andrews up to a larger audience.” ★★★★ – ABC NEWS