Shovels and Rope mix classic country with gritty blues

Shovels and Rope blends bluesy, twangy filled instrumentation in “Swimmin’ Time”.

Allison Winters, Writer

Imagine that just this past weekend, June Carter rose from the dead and adopted Jack White as her son and protege. She then chose Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” as his soulmate and the two joined together in holy, musical, mythical matrimony to create the dusty-sweet Shovels and Rope album "Swimmin’ Time."

If you can already hear the jangling piano keys and scratchy two-part harmonies, then you are ready to receive Shovels and Rope's newest release, sadly, sans any participation from Jack or Jolene.

"Swimmin’ Time," by husband and wife duo Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, marks the band’s third full-length country folk album. "Swimmin’ Time" opens with a track titled "The Devil is All Around" and the lyrics "You never know how far you'll go to make your peace with God,” setting the classic spiritual tone of the album common amongst the traditional country folk artists that came before them.

A few songs further into the album, the couple sings, "Every now and then I get evil/ I'm ashamed in the shadow of the steeple," in the track called "Evil.” The gospel blues run deep through the album, showing up very clearly in some tracks and more subdued in others. "Evil" contains the biting bitterness of a Black Keys song as Trent and Hearst howl in unison to the beat of a dissonant electric guitar.

"Fish Assassin" kicks the tempo up a notch with lyrics hurriedly shouted out over an all-percussion arrangement full of snaps and claps. The title track sounds straight out of an alternative “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack, which paints a clear picture of the album as a whole.

Shovels and Rope's bluesy, twang filled instrumentation on “Swimmin’ Time” serves as the perfect backdrop as the husband and wife duo sing about God, sin, love and revenge.

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