Posts Tagged ‘Little Seeds’

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Ever since its 2008 debut, Shovels & Rope has brandished a rare, raw brand of honesty through music that growls and spits, sweats and swings from verse to chorus to roaring solo. There’s always been something special about this duo, but never has that special thing been so as in their 2016 release Little Seeds. Plenty has been written already about the duo’s decision to get personal this time, their still-fresh, unexpected parenthood, their reckoning with the dementia of Michael Trent’s father. Here’s something Shovels & Rope’s Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst learned after unexpectedly getting pregnant: having a kid is a delicious hell nothing can prepare you for. The husband-and-wife team coped with the insanity by making their loudest record to date, Little Seeds, injecting their trademark country with a strain of distortion ripped right from the gospel according to the Jesus and Mary Chain.

All of those things are laid bare in this disc; but even if you didn’t know the backstory, the music is itself powerful, whether it’s riding a fuzzy guitar pedal or echoing off the upper registers of Cary Ann Hearst’s acoustic strings. Known for passionate harmonies, Shovels & Rope lapses just as frequently here into octave unison — their two sets of vocal cords ring like one voice echoing against itself. Stylistically, they hop from punk to folk to country, but you’d only know that if you listened very closely. The prevailing vibe of the record is a musical manifestation of Trent and wife/collaborator Hearst themselves.

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Shovels & Rope manages to make a lot out of a little. The guy-girl, husband-wife duo acts can get cloying, but Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst defy such pigeonholing. From their instrumentation (mostly alternating between guitars, drums, and keys) to their stage décor (repurposed wooden pallets hung behind them with original projection art), Shovels & Rope makes the barebones bone rattling, and that ingenuity makes them one of the best bands we saw live this year

This rustic Americana duo known as Shovels and Rope have long savored the gore of murder ballads. Even their name references the tools of hanging and burial. But for their fifth release, the married couple which comprises the group sang about those deaths and births which have affected their own lives. The songs on ‘Little Seeds’ reflect the emotional fall-out of the senseless murder of a close friend, the impending death of one members’ father, as well as the birth of the couple’s first child. The result gave the group’s already unusual odes a greater sense of consequence. The music has also deepened, abstracting the wildest outbursts of Appalachian folk, country and blues with more purposeful distortion. Though Shovels & Rope have always favored a ramshackle style, now their racket sounds profound.