The Handsome Family Announce New Album, ‘Unseen’, Share Tour Dates

Husband and wife duo The Handsome Family will release their 10th studio album Unseen on September 16th via Virtual Label, their first release since their unexpected worldwide fame when their song “Far From Any Road” was picked up as the True Detective Season 1 theme song. With its unique mix of country instrumentation and intriguing surrealist lyriciscm, the album explores the unseen stories, people, and places of the American West, where members Brett and Rennie Sparks live (Albuquerque, NM) and shines a light on the obscure and forgotten. The album’s first single “Gold” debuted today on Wall Street Journal.

Listen to “Gold” on Wall Street Journal here:

“Gold” is a modern classic murder ballad that paints intense images of a protagonist, with snake tattoos, a ski mask, and gun shot wounds. The song’s inspiration stems from a trip to the convenient store when “Brett went down for a six pack and came back with like $120 in $20 bills,” explained Rennie. “He said there were $20 bills just swirling around in the air. He felt like it was his lucky day, but I, being a glass-half-empty kind of girl, immediately started worrying that someone was lying dead in a ditch. No one lets go of a fist full of money without a fight in this town.” The track is the beginning of a journey taking the listener “past the last lights of town,” driving us into the unknown, a place familiar to The Handsome Family.

Unseen continues The Handsome Family’s embrace of things beyond easy view: the slow dive of the sun, enormous bugs awakening in thorny yards, sirens, and coyotes that cry out to the purple sky. An epic western gothic masterpiece, Unseen draws from real life events. “Gentlemen” is a tribute to William Crookes who built the first vacuum tube in 1875, hoping to detect spirits from alternate dimensions. Many tracks fix around the idea that light emanates from things we can’t see, including behind“The Red Door” in the empty hands of blackjack losers (“The Silver Light”), and amidst desert bones bleaching in the sun (“King of Dust”).

The album was recorded in the Sparks’ home studio at night “with only hawk moths listening” and features a rich tapestry of instrumentation conjuring images of the magical landscape of the Sparks’ New Mexico surroundings. Guest performers on the record include David Gutierrez (mandolin, dobro), Alex McMahon (guitar, baritone guitar, pedal steel), and Jason Toth (drums).

The Sparks have released 10 albums since 1995’s Odessa. Their songs have been covered by artists including Jeff TweedyAmanda Palmer, and Andrew Bird (who released an entire record of Handsome Family covers). Guns ‘N’ Roses used “Far From Any Road” as stage entrance music for a South American tour and both Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr are fans.

Track List:
01) Gold
02) The Silver Light
03) Back In My Day
04) Tiny Tina
05) Underneath The Falls
06) The Sea Rose
07) The Red Door
08) Gentlemen
09) King Of Dust
10) Green Willow Valley
US Tour Dates:
09/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Cedar
09/16 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency
09/17 – Milwaukee, WI @ Shank Hall
09/18 – Chicago, IL @ Old Town School
09/19 – Chicago, IL @ Old Town School
09/24 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
09/25 – Cleveland, OH @ The Music Box Supper Club
09/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
09/29 – Portsmouth, NH @ The Music Loft
09/30 – New York, NY @ The Mercury Lounge
10/01 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Knitting Factory
11/12 – Albuquerque, NM @ The Launchpad


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