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Shovels and Rope - Swimmin' Time

  by Cila Warncke

published: 12 / 9 / 2014

Shovels and Rope - Swimmin' Time
Label: Dualtone
Format: CD


Irresistible country, blues, gospel, and garage rock on second album from South Carolina husband and wife duo, Shovels and Rope

Shovels & Rope, aka Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, hail from South Carolina and mix up a witch's brew of country, black-hearted blues, gospel, and garage rock. Which sounds like – and is – a lot to pack into the fifty-four minutes of their second album, 'Swimmin' Time', but it goes like one of those American hot-rods with a big-ass 2014 engine bolted to a 1930's chassis and dazzled up with licks of flame straight out of 1950's rock 'n' roll fantasy. Their anarchic energy is, in part, a product of their diverse musical loves. Hearst and Trent are old-school working musicians – the kind who play everything from punk to blues, who've been in a dozen bands (give or take), gigged solo, tried a little this and a little that. Shovels & Rope bloomed out of that loam after the duo started collaborating, fell in love, married (Trent proposed at Red Rocks) and thought: Shucks, why don't we try this thing together? Part of Shovels & Rope's appeal is that they make music fun. The songs are sharp, often bleak vignettes of sin, sex, striving, screwing up, sorrow, salvation and shrimp fishing. Things, in short, that differentiate real life from the sanitised, commercialised, two-dimensional farce that bombards us from every screen and billboard. But given these complications exist, why not make a joyful noise about them? 'Swimmin' Time' opens with 'The Devil Is All Around' a masterpiece of dark innuendo and a plaintive plea for redemption. (If you have any pure thoughts left after watching the couple sweat and shake through the promo: http://shovelsandrope.com/media/, holding each others' eyes as they spit lines like: “Crawlin' on the ground/On your hands and your knees/With an apple in your mouth”, call the Vatican and nominate yourself for a sainthood.) 'Evil' sounds like the White Stripes, if Detroit were in Appalachia, with a broke, lonely narrator snarling his confessions (“I hit my kids, but I don't mean to”) over a ravenous bass and honky-tonk piano. 'Mary Ann & One-Eyed Dan' chronicles the love affair of a 21-year-old war vet and a feisty waitress. 'Pinned' takes a toe-tapping stab at the ways folks get each other wrong (“Was I just too blind to see/It wasn't love but sympathy?”), while 'Coping Mechanism' is a doo-wop dissection of drug addiction delivered with the wry self-awareness of a woman who wants to quit – but not yet. The title track evokes Katrina and the Crash, calling down judgement on the careless rich: “The money in your eyes/Has left you blind/You'll be the one drowning/When it's swimming time”. Gritty and glorious, 'Swimmin' Time' is more just than deft story-telling and kaleidoscopic tunes. It soars on Hearst and Trent's palpable delight in life and art. They exude the irresistible appeal of people who've built a good thing from scratch and can't wait to share it. Buy the album: http://www.dualtonestore.com/collections/shovels-rope Web: http://shovelsandrope.com/

Track Listing:-
1 The Devil Is All Around
2 Bridge On Fire
3 Evil
4 After the Storm
5 Fish Assassin
6 Coping Mechanism
7 Pinned
8 Swimmin' Time
9 Stono River Blues
10 Ohio
11 Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan
12 Save the World
13 Thresher
14 The Ice Will Melt (Bonus Track)
15 Oh Lonely (Bonus Track)
16 The Devil Is All Around

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