Photo by Leslie Ryan McKellar
DIY sits at the heart of Shovels & Rope. Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst started out in punk bands before teaming up in 2008, and they toured the only way they knew how: city after city, crammed into a van, making a racket with just guitar and drums. Shovels & Rope have become standard bearers for a new kind of folk music that’s traditionally-influenced but shot through with a contemporary energy. Even though Trent claims he came to Townes Van Zandt late in life, there’s a bit of the Texas troubadour’s wit and darkness in Shovels & Rope’s music.
The South Carolina duo branched out on last year’s Swimmin’ Time, mixing in barrelhouse piano and keyboards to further flesh out their sound. They’re just as dynamic live, as we found out recently in our Studio 1A. “Bridge On Fire” burns with a building intensity, born from years of experience and a special spark between Trent and Hearst.