Musically speaking, one of the best parts of the breakout success of “True Detective” is the window it opens into the world of the Handsome Family. The husband-wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks composed “Far From Any Road,” used each week in the HBO mystery’s opening credits, but that tells only a tiny part of their story.
For the last two decades the pair has been using the blueprints of old-time country and western balladry to create dark but often lovely narratives set in the present.
Featuring songs in which worms “circle like sharks” waiting for death to come, their best work offers songcraft with the narrative drive of short stories. With lyrics on death and the afterlife, drunken heartache, twin sisters, benders in hotel bars and dogs chained to trees, the woes of the world’s tallest man and the last few moments of Amelia Earhart’s life (“… she remembered picking lemons with William Randolph Hearst,” for your information), their tight compositions certainly deserve wider recognition, even if many of them call for a stiff drink afterward.
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