Review: The Handsome Family’s “Wilderness”

Brett and Rennie SparksJason Creps

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The Handsome Family
Wilderness
Carrot Top

The Handsome Family, Wilderness

Wilderness

Albuquerque-based spouses Brett and Rennie Sparks have crafted their idiosyncratic version of Americana for more than two decades, blending his low growl of a voice with her askew lyrics to offer a subtly surreal take on traditional music. In songs like “Frogs,” “Caterpillars,” and “Eels” (you get their drift), the slow-cooking Wilderness, out this week, charts the uneasy interaction between humankind and the natural world, often to scary effect. “The owls they mock me and have stolen my pills,” Brett murmurs on—what else?—”Owls.” Things turn downright creepy on “Spider,” his account of how “a million little teeth tore me to pieces.” Amid familiar fiddles and banjos, the Handsome Family’s absorbing vision of decay and entropy is quietly unsettling, and makes most other modern roots music seem like child’s play.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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