I'm a big fan of husband and wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks' The Handsome Family and new album Unseen is, on initial listening, a steady and cohesive work which whilst not having tracks with the immediacy and impact of previous classics such as Weightless Again and Bottomless Hole has slow burners that worm their way into the head and rewards repeated plays. It's a grower. Opening with new single Gold it starts in familiar, hauntingly descriptive territory ("Lying in the weeds with a bullet in my gut, watching dollar bills flying away in the dust") it almost reads like a screenplay whilst Back in My Day is possibly my favourite with their characteristic soundtrack quality enhanced by a mournful cello.
Brett's deep vocals are lead on most tracks whilst songwriter Rennie's notable vocal appearances higher in the mix are Tiny Tina and the ghostly Sea Rose. I also heard restrained dobro, mandolin, banjo, ukelele bass, cello, pedal steel, drums and piano plus Brett's distinctive Telecaster sound. The descriptive storytelling songwriting, sparse delivery and a sound that always evokes their New Mexico homeland paint vivid cinematic pictures. Beautifully atmospheric late night listening, especially on headphones.