Shovels and Rope play the Wilma Fri., March 2, at 8 PM. $25 - $35.
I tend to like my music either loud, fast and furious or dark, slow and mournful. But when a band can make an album with a mix of those elements — sometimes within one song — I’m all in. On their 2016 album, Little Seeds, Shovels and Rope accomplish this feat, combining sizzling garage rock with Americana storytelling. They included another thing I love: some boot scootin’ country stylings. But all the stylings aren’t hollow. The husband-wife duo, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, offer the unshakeable sense that the music they play is super personal. The album begins with the snarky, sneering “I Know,” directed at a derivative musician, but the album gets much deeper by the third track, “St. Anne’s Parade,” where they sing, “And I’m up too damn early in the morning/watching the world around me come alive/and I need more fingers to count the ones I love/this life may be too good to survive.”
The rest of the album expands from the personal (dead loved ones) to the historical (Civil War), but what’s nestled in almost all these songs is a celebratory tone, a frenetic hope that feels pained and wonderful.
Also, noteworthy: Shovels and Rope dominate their live shows, the two musicians switching instruments and taking up the stage with their big, beautiful voices. Seeing them live is what made me go back and listen more closely to their records.