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Through The Trees

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

Price: £10.89 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Loose Music
  • ASIN: B000024CA9
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,417 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

The Handsomes are a true one-off with genuinely barmy pharmaceutical lyrics written by Rennie Sparks delivered wistfully in the baritone of husband Brett while banjo, melodica, (lots of) autoharp and piano fill out the soundscape. On their third full-length record, the Chicago-based pair expand on their warped country palette to embrace and twist virtually every form of American roots music. "Weightless Again" is spooky and folky; "Where The Birch Trees Lean" is a potential showtune played at a tranquillised pace, "The Woman Downstairs" bears the warped jazz of Tom Waits, "Last Night I Went Out Walking" is an alternative cowboy lament while the standout tracks--"Cathedrals" and the surreal tearjerker of "Giant Of Illinois"--owe much to no-nonsense 1950s country. Creepy and weird, Through The Trees is also inventive as anything. --Tim Perry

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
To enter the macabre world of the Handsome Family is like walking into an episode of Twin Peaks directed by Tim Burton. On the surface all seems to be normal, but dig a little deeper and you'll find a world of harsh judgements, despair, madness and isolation. S Club 7 this ain't.
From the first track onwards (Weightless Again) the Family set out their bleak manifesto. The line 'this is why people OD on pills and jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, anything to be weightless again' really hits hard.
Husband and wife Brett and Rennie Sparks are to put it mildly a little eccentric. Brett was a devout Southern Baptist and Professor until he met Rennie, a sassy yet erudite New Yorker. They began collaborating on material embued with the dark qualities of Nick Cave and Tom Waits, but musically influenced by the lineage of great country artists such as Hank Williams.
The result is a record with beautiful arrangements, divine melodies and plaintive strumming but within which lurks a dark heart.
Listening to the CD can be disconcerting. On the surface it seems like pleasant music that could easily be part of the New Acoustic Movement, but pay attention to the lyrics and the room will suddenly become chilled. The Family aren't as blatant as an artist like Will Oldham who tries to create a spooky ambience. They manage this without any need for grand guignol theatricality.
That's not to say that the record is completely gloomy, and there are some signs of redemption and hope in the later tracks. Ultimately this CD examines mankind's darker instincts and addresses issues such as bi-polar schizophrenia with hummably tunes. No mean feat.
If you like the films of David Lynch, enjoy acoustic music, or just want to buy an album that makes some demands of the listener this is essential.
American Gothic has never sounded so sweet.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this album having heard a cover of 'weightless again', not really knowing what to expect...
Well, I was surprised but not dissapointed- Handsome family plays music like nothing i've ever heard...unsettlingling lyrics make for *interesting* listening if a little depressing at times; and boy can they conjour up a mood! weightless again is worth 10 of any cover, and each track seems to tap into a different genre, be it jazz, blues, bluegrass, or the obvious country!
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Format: Audio CD
How many records make you want to fling open your windows and release a primal holler, venting your revulsion at the absurdities and injustices of the modern world? In the dislocated world of the Handsome Family, this primeval declaration would only be greeted by derision by the winos and junkies that inhabit the street below. For here, deep within this recording your worst nightmares and deepest fears are visited and publicly displayed.

Released in 1998, Through the Trees was the third album produced by Brett and Renee Sparks - The Handsome Family. Their first album Odessa (1996) was a messy, directionless affair and the follow up Milk and Scissors (1996) suffered from a rather `flat' production, but propelled them in the `dark country' path on which they would eventually develop on Through the Trees. An other-worldliness presides of this claustrophobic affair, a truck driver breaks down in a blizzard (`Stalled'), but there is no cry for help, just an opportunity to view nature close-up from the safety and warmth of the cab. A duel consciousness is revealed that allows us city dwellers, to glimpse out into a world where we have limited control.

I first became of aware of this album, and The Handsome Family for that matter, from a `freebie' disk that came courtesy of Uncut magazine back in 1998. The featured song - `Weightless Again' is the opening track on Through the Trees and introduces us to a band who, although labeled as `new' or `alt-country', operate in a `country' not frequented by any other that went before. The subject matter of the song draws on a deep human need to experience a weightlessness that takes us back to the 'gravity-free' environment of the womb.
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Format: Audio CD
Like many people, i,m sure ,my introduction to The Handsome Family was through a free CD given away with Uncut magazine. The song "Weightless Again"- the first track on this album- is one of those tunes that once it lodges in the cerebellum is almost impossible to remove. The lyrics speak with genuine pathos about a deep seated human need for the swaddled comfort of the womb- equating modern alienation to native Americans losing the ability to make fire. As the song says "This is why people OD on pills/ And jump from the Golden Gate bridge /Anything to feel weightless again". It also encapsulates one of the bands primary themes-death - a subject they always approach with dark humour and empathy.
Through The Trees was originally released in 1998 and is in fact the bands third album but it,s the one that really brought them the recognition they deserved. The Handsome Family are a curious proposition anyway. A husband and wife team -Brett Sparks is a former Baptist minister blessed with a rumbling but expressive baritone while wife Rennie is a sassy New Yorker who plays the auto-harp. She writes the bands lyrics-dripping with charcoal epigrams and vivid descriptive prose , especially concerning nature and the capriciousness of fate-the nature fascination mirrored by the bands album sleeves.
Apart from the outstanding "Weightless Again" the best song on the album is the poignant "The Giant Of Illinois" who "Died from a blister on his toe". The deliberate ponderous chords while delivering an effulgent melody also tell a metaphorical tale of the cruelty and beauty of existence portrayed by the giants sad demise set against callous youths stoning a swan to death.
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