Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent both had a crack at a solo career with limited success until they crossed paths. The pair made a record together, got hitched to each other and then their career trajectory took a significant turn for the better when they formed the multi-instrument swapping duo, Shovels & Rope.
Their second album, Swimmin’ Time, builds on the skewed Americana that saw the Shovels & Rope debut become so highly awarded. There is enough left-of-centre twang and sparse instrumentation to make this album bridge the gap between slacker indie and country as the duo cover topics such as failure and the devil early on.
There is a nautical element to Swimmin’ Time with floods, submarines and fishing all getting a run with the couple’s liberal use of harmony that doesn’t shy away from charming faults or happy accidents. The gothic nature of the band rears its head on Evil as fuzzed-out guitar and minimalist piano create the foundation for this sinister march. Mary Anne & One Eyed Dan is signature Shovels & Rope as it takes to oddly matched characters and wraps their tale in a foot stomping lo-fi romp.
Shovels & Rope have been getting their share of attention in no small part due to their quirky high energy live shows. Swimmin’ Time captures all of the bands assets and brings them into your lounge room warts and all.