Recording information: Studio Bees, Johns Bland, SC.
Photographers: Curtis Millard; Leslie McKellar.
On their fifth album (and first for New West Records), Shovels & Rope show that they keep getting better as performers and recording artists. Released in 2016, Little Seeds is the strongest piece of record-making Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst have delivered to date. Their sweet and sour harmonies balance off one another beautifully, Trent's rumbling guitar work finds a graceful middle ground between twang and crunch, and they've learned how to make their music fit the dynamics of the songs, expanding from an intimate fireside guitar pull to a grand-scale blowout at their command. Trent also produced Little Seeds, and he's given it a dry but rich sound that's natural while playing to the strengths of the performances. Songwriting isn't always the group's strong suit, but the spectral indictment of racism in "BWYR" and the murderous shaggy-dog tale of "Botched Execution" stand out, showing Shovels & Rope know how to deliver a message when they have the right things to say. ~ Mark Deming
Paste (magazine) - "The best songs on LITTLE SEEDS feature some of the South Carolina duo's most evocative writing, and their earthy vocal harmonies are as powerful as ever."
Uncut (magazine) - "These songs are often vividly effervescent. 'I Know' Is a playful tale of petty jealousies and band rivalries that sounds like a dust-up between T. Rex and Gun Club."