Search - Handsome Family :: Through the Trees

Through the Trees
Handsome Family
Through the Trees
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (1) - Disc #1

Showcases beautiful songs in a more trad country or Appalachian folk vein. Hailed as their finest! Incl. their hits "Weightless Again" & "Cathedrals"


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CD Details

All Artists: Handsome Family
Title: Through the Trees
Members Wishing: 8
Total Copies: 0
Label: Carrot Top Records
Original Release Date: 1/27/1998
Re-Release Date: 1/26/1998
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Americana, Classic Country, Indie & Lo-Fi, Traditional Folk, Contemporary Folk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 789397002025


Product Description
Showcases beautiful songs in a more trad country or Appalachian folk vein. Hailed as their finest! Incl. their hits "Weightless Again" & "Cathedrals"

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CD Reviews

Try 'em At Least Once
James Carragher | New York | 11/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"At their frequent best, Handsome Family poke relentlessly into the dark, the obscure and the unknowable of private and collective life on this planet. It is one brave undertaking. You won't be buying this or any other HF CD solely for the music. Brett's baritone vocals drone; the simple loping arrangements (albeit with occasional offbeat instruments like the dobro, melodica, and autoharp) recall nothing so much as the Happy Trails-type theme songs that played during the credits on TV's early-60's Westerns. But that uncluttered ordinariness is the perfect showcase for Rennie's lyrical, often inconclusive, stories. The best of this CD includes a coffee break on a trip through the redwoods that inspires ruminations on a couple's growing estrangement and floating -- in water as learning, in air as suicide (Weightless Again). Cathedrals contrasts man's monumental achievements and his thin moment in time ("everyone of us is swept away like breadcrumbs"). On Stalled, a man stuck in snow (snow, like drinking, is a constant motif to the HF work) grows colder and colder, but never leaves his pickup. Lovers commit dual suicides because -- it seems -- their love is simply too big for life (Down in the Valley of Hollow Logs). My only reservation about the Family is that their bizarreness on occasion comes across as mannered, which -- of course -- makes it a pose, just another suit to try on. The Woman Downstairs is one of two or three songs here to suffer that weakness. That keeps Through the Trees from five star status, but hardly changes my view that there's nobody around quite like Handsome Family, and lucky we are to have them."
A lovely album featuring several utterly gorgeous, haunting
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 08/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is rightfully celebrated as the Handsome Family's finest album. It isn't perfect--several of the songs are a couple of notches in quality below the best efforts--but there are several songs that are absolutely unforgettable. People have debated whether it is country, neo-traditional, folk, or whatever, but while the form of the music would make it some kind of alt-country effort, the lyrics send it off into its own unique genre. These songs are STRANGE. If this is country, name me another country song that in any way resembles "The Woman Down the Stairs" or any folk song that bears any resemblance to "My Sister's Tiny Hands." I have trouble putting the Handsome Family into any kind of country genre for a simple reason: in most country songs, people's lives are broken while the world is essentially OK. But the Handsome Family's songs are metaphysical; they describe a broken world, so broken that the people are by necessity lost, bereft, doomed. It is music that is Gothic in the sense that Nathaniel Hawthorne was Gothic, not Marilyn Manson. Better, their songs could be compared with the work of Ray Bradbury. Although he is mistakenly thought to be a Sci-fi writer, it is more accurate to describe him as a master of the Weird Fiction genre. The songs of the Handsome Family shares more than a few qualities with this genre.

About a third of the songs on this album are masterpieces, another third very good, and a third just sorta drab. If the weakest songs had been replaced, this would have been one of the great American albums ever. Even as it is, this is essential. "Weightless Again" is just stunning, built around a simple, lovely, forlorn melody, but essentially a meditation on why people do some of the more extreme, self-destructive things they do to themselves. "My Sister's Tiny Hands" is an almost equally beautiful gem about losing a twin sister. "Last Night I Went Out Walking" is not as strong melodically, but it contains heartbreaking and deceptively simple lyrics about a rebuked lover tempted to commit suicide by drowning. But "The Woman Downstairs" almost makes that song sound like a lark with its multiple horrific images concerning a woman who starved herself to death.

The Handsome Family is a family in fact: Brett Sparks sings most of their songs and writes the music while his wife is a fiction writer who here pens the lyrics for the songs and contributes Autoharp. Their first two albums--ODESSA and MILK AND SCISSORS--showed flashes of excellence but neither was consistently good throughout, and both featured songs that seemed stylistically out of phase with the rest of the album. But on THROUGH THE TREES they settled into a consistent style throughout, embracing a simple, understated sound. The result is one of the finest albums to come out of Chicago in the past decade. Whether it is alt-country, folk, neo-traditionalist, indie, or whatever really isn't important. What it mainly is, is good."