The Handsome Family

"Smothered and Covered"

Rob Hughes, Uncut Magazine, May, 2002

****

Internet-only release for "personal gathering of rarities including odd covers, bathroom demos, and orphaned songs" from Albuquerque's strangest.

It's fitting testament to Brett and Rennie Sparks' quality control that these castaways are still spun through with a golden thread. Alongside alternative takes on the familiar--a less demented reel around "Down in the Ground"; Rennie burnishing sweet-soft back ups to #1 Country Song"--are Cage-inspired piano and cello interludes, respective In the Air and Twilight throwaways, "There's a City" and "Natalie Wood", Louvin Brothers staple "Knoxville Girl" (surely a pointer for their own "Arlene") and Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down". Standout is Bill Monroe weepie and live favourite "I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling", though it's run close by the hilarious, anti-Christmas sneer of "Stupid Bells", apparently triggered by Rennie's family convincing her Santa Claus started World War II. Now it all makes sense.s