Husband and wife duo The Handsome Family will release their 10th studio album Unseen on September 16th via Virtual Label. It's their first release since their song 'Far From Any Road' was picked up as the True Detective Season 1 theme song which launched the couple into sudden and unexpected worldwide fame. 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. This morning, American Songwriter premiered their new song 'Tiny Tina' which tells "the tragic story of tiny-horse-meeting gone awry."
Listen to 'Tiny Tina' via American Songwriter
“Every year at the state fair I went determined to see Tiny Tina the world’s smallest horse," explained Rennie Spark. "Every year I came home without doing it. One year she just wasn’t there. Why didn’t I go see her when I had the chance? Maybe I was afraid of disappointment? Maybe I was afraid of not being disappointed? I did see a hypnotist at the state fair one year who was so terrifying that I felt like I was having a psychotic break. The devil himself may have been at the fair that year. Carnivals are always that way— teetering between joy and insanity. Is this why so many people are afraid of clowns? We hope you hear all these things in this song: joy, fear, heartbreak, awe— all the things the sight of a really tiny horse ought to make you feel.”
'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. Lead single 'Gold', debuted by Wall Street Journal, began when a bunch of twenty-dollar bills blew in Brett's face in a parking lot dust storm, while '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 Tweedy, Amanda 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 09/21 - St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway 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 11/30 - Bellingham, WA @ The Green Frog 12/01 - Seattle, WA @ The Triple Door 12/02 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir 12/03 - Arcata, CA @ Humboldt Brews 12/07 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall 12/08 - Felton, CA @ Don Quixote's International Music Hall 12/09 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Bootleg Theater 12/10 - Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace 12/13 - Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress