Call it a musical renewal of their vows. The eighth Handsome Family album, Honey Moon, coincides with the 20th wedding anniversary of Rennie and Brett Sparks. The Albuquerque-based duo and Americana favourites are known for their melancholy material and murder ballads, but lyricist Rennie explains "we have always wanted to write love songs, and this seemed the record for really delving into that. The beautiful love songs we both love are really good things to have in the world. If we could add a few, that'd be a good thing."
The couple credit a visit to New Zealand with fuelling their muse. "I felt a very real connection to natural beauty and emotion and art," Rennie says. "I think that is why we became obsessed with romantic art in general. Art should make you feel closer to the world."
For Brett, who writes the music and whose resonant voice anchors the Handsome Family sound, inspiration came from their road trip soundtrack, a hits collection by vocal group the Platters. "It was the only CD we had in the rental car. Those songs are so beautiful, it was like an epiphany. A very romantic nature trip."
A soulful croon drives some of the new songs, and Brett calls Honey Moon "a concerted attempt to flex all of our songwriting muscles. This was like a science project for us to do, and it blossomed into this big mess. We gathered all those notions up and put them in this little basket. And we're selling them for $15 each. Come and get 'em while they're fresh!"