Shovels and Rope’s ‘Botched Execution’ a mind-blowing composition

Snip from Shovels and Rope album cover for 'Little Seeds'.
Snip from Shovels and Rope album cover for ‘Little Seeds’.

My family discovered Shovels and Rope a few years ago, and we’ve been fans ever since. Springing forth from Charleston, SC, this duo brings a uniqueness to music we don’t see a lot these days.

The band is often billed as ‘indie folk’ or ‘Americana’. But what they really are: two who are one of a kind.

Snip from Shovels and Rope video for 'Botched Execution'.
Snip from Shovels and Rope video for ‘Botched Execution’.

I admit folk music isn’t exactly my favorite cup of tea. Much of the folk music I hear tries too hard, often with lyrics that are cliché and unwittingly so politically correct they border on tapioca. Musicians often compensate for the lyrical shortcomings with over-the-top instrumentation. How long can a banjo riff go on? I have wondered this many times.

Not with this duo. Give one listen to ‘Botched Execution’, and view the mind-blowing video and you’ll see what I mean. That song meshes spoken word, lyrical magic, narrative poetry, and melody into one tantalizing piece. The song is part of their new album ‘Little Seeds’.

Their music stands alone in its unique creative approach.

This young couple, now married, earned a lot of their stripes as indie artists, taking the hard road to maintain their creative license. They drew enough attention to have their work picked up by independent distributors, and their new album is out from New West Records.

Their current tour takes them across the USA and to Cancun (Mexico).

Before Carry Ann Hearst and Michael Trent began to perform together, each of them had pursued musical careers and released music. Once they came together professionally, it was magic for their fans.

After their baby girl was born, the couple discovered what many artists with children have discovered:

“Babies don’t pay attention to schedules,” Hearst said. “Newborns don’t care that you have a session scheduled at 10 in the morning.”

As I’ve often told my daughters when they get road-weary, a career in music is not for the faint of heart.

While Shovels and Rope comprises a duo, they make a very big sound on the stage. Hearst and Trent switch off roles seamlessly, with harmonies perfectly blending to make a single phenomenal sound. To call them a dynamo is an understatement.

If you get a chance to see them, take it. Shovels and Rope is a great example of an indie duo whose music delves deep into the human condition and comes up with a surprise every time. I wouldn’t say they’re standard folk artists–more like alternative folk with a twist and some Gothic mixed with splashes of light.

(Kay B. Day/Sept. 22, 2017)

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