The Charleston, South Carolina husband and wife duo return with their most personal collection of scuffed-up blues songs to date
Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent are the married couple better known as Shovels & Rope. Their Southern Gothic-infused music blends elements of blues and Americana with their love of storytelling, imagine a collaboration between Jack White and Rennie Sparks of The Handsome Family. Little Seeds takes them on a more personal path than ever before as they tackle intimate subject matters such as family and the racial tension currently blighting their adopted hometown.
That’s not to say it’s a downbeat record. Bursting into life with the relentless goth-glam opener, I Know, the frantic pace continues on Botched Execution as the duo somehow manage not to trip over each other’s tongues. The second half of the album slows down a little to reveal the classic songwriting underpinning their more raucous tendencies. Missionary Ridge is a rootsy track which throws a light on Hearst and Trent’s clever harmonies and the gospel-tinged BWYR shines with emotion.
The album’s crowning glory is Invisible Man, a raging and rallying attack on the Alzheimer’s disease suffered by Trent’s father. Its boot-stomping enthusiasm can’t hide the pain being felt by the pair as they cry, “Is there anybody out there who can give me a voice / I hate to repeat it but it’s not my choice.” Adding these personal messages to the mix hasn’t watered down any of the enjoyment you get from listening to Shovels & Rope. If anything, it’s made them an even more interesting proposition.
Verdict: A thrilling and bluesy insight