Cary Ann Hearst
Michael Trent


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It’s not all that unusual for musicians to talk the talk about taking a less-is-more approach to their work – but it’s rare indeed for artists to really walk the walk, and apply that philosophy across the board. Over the better part of a decade, Shovels & Rope have done just that, cutting unnecessary frills from their songs, not to mention the very way they live their musical lives.

Mississippi-born, Nashville-bred Cary Ann Hearst and Texas-born, Colorado-raised Michael Trent forged singular paths as solo artists before connecting – both musically and personally – in Charleston, South Carolina. While they’d both had burgeoning solo careers (Cary Ann earned kudos for her 2006 album Dust and Bones, Michael with his band, The Films, as well as his own solo outings), they quickly found that both their voices – which entwine with eerie beauty in their haunting harmonies – and philosophies matched up perfectly, and a beautiful partnership was born.

“Consciously or not, we’ve always insulated ourselves from outside influences,” says Cary Ann. “The key, for us, is to be authentic to ourselves – and, sometimes to a fault, we’ve managed to do that. I don’t think we’d be able to keep doing this if we backed off from what we were doing when we started.”

There’s no backing off or backing down on Swimmin’ Time, the duo’s much-anticipated sophomore set as Shovels & Rope, an album that brims with the confidence, energy and sinew of a band that’s accustomed to treating their career as a marathon, rather than a sprint. The album, recorded at the studio Trent constructed in the couple’s home, finds them cutting a new path through the sonic thickets they navigated so nimbly on their breakthrough bow, O’ Be Joyful – a disc that won rave reviews from outlets like Mojo (which called it “thrilling”) and Filter, which said “[they] were solid singer- songwriters on their own, but this is truly a thing of magic.”

On Swimmin’ Time – a title that nods to the aquatic theme running through the disc’s songs -- Hearst and Trent bob and weave through a combination of witty, playful tales (like “Fish Assassin”) and brooding murder ballads (like the horn-tinged New Orleans shuffle “Ohio”) with a rare combination of intimacy and swagger. They know when to grab the listener by the shoulders and shake (as on the fiercely roiling opener “The Devil Is All Around”) and when to put a caring arm around those same shoulders in order to spin a gentler yarn (like “After the Storm,” a tale of surviving rough waters, both literally and spiritually).

“We weren’t trying to make a particular kind of record, but we knew early on that there would be some evolution,” says Trent, who also produced Swimmin’ Time. “There are all kinds of dark undertones, but there are other colors, too. Every song kind of played off, and built on, the ones that came before, so they fit together really well.”

That seamless construction helps Swimmin’ Time slide past the ears and into the memory banks with remarkable ease, each of its songs leaving a bit of an indelible mark, from the sonically brooding “Stono River Blues” (which could easily pass for a lost Grimm’s Fairy Tale) to the chiming “Save the World,” a sort of semaphore flag signaling hope on the horizon, to the woozy, closing-time waltz of "Coping Mechanism."

“Our working model has always been to use what we have lying around,” says Cary Ann. “It’s just that this time, we happened to have an organ lying around, we had a piano lying around...we definitely had more resources at hand, but we didn’t want to seem ostentatious or anything. Besides which, we still have to recreate the songs live, so there’s a limit - even though Michael can play five things at once, like a wind-up toy.”

Those live shows have played a huge part in building Shovels & Rope’s reputation among audiences and their peers – the latter of whom voted the duo in for two 2013 Americana Music Awards, Emerging Artist of the Year as well as Song of the Year (for the vivid, semi-autobiographical “Birmingham”). Over the past two years, Cary Ann and Michael kept their sleeves rolled up and their voices raised, an M.O. that helped them eventually sell more than 60,000 albums the old fashioned way – reaching one listener at a time, and making each one feel like part of the Shovels & Rope family.

As a result, they were able to trade their well-loved and road-weary van for an R.V. and segue from tiny, sweat-soaked dives to larger halls, not to mention eye-opening performances at events like the Newport Folk Festival, Coachella and Lollapalooza. They may have had camera crews following them – for the intimate, revelatory documentary The Ballad of Shovels & Rope, which has been making the film festival circuit this past year – but they didn’t cut back on what Cary Ann calls “windshield time,” and certainly didn’t let their egos grow in tandem.

“Word of mouth has been a huge part of our story,” says Michael. “We just toured and toured, opening up for bigger bands and playing anywhere we could. Sometimes we felt more like t-shirt selling long-distance truckers. It wasn’t like we had a huge song that came out of nowhere and was suddenly on the radio all the time. I’d be terrified if that was the case.”

While they didn’t start showing up in the tabloids as a result, “Birmingham” (the number- one song on American Songwriter’s year-end list) and the rest of O’ Be Joyful did put Shovels & Rope on the larger stage in many ways – from an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman to an acclaimed set on Austin City Limits. But as they continue to prove, night after night on tour, they aren’t about to put their blue collars into mothballs. Cary Ann jokingly says, “We keep getting more famous, but we aren’t getting any better,” before turning serious.

“This is something we’ve both always dreamed of doing,” she says. “We enjoy each other’s music and we enjoy each other’s company. We thrive on doing exactly what we’re doing, and we’re making people happy with it. What could be better than that?”
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Shovels and Rope Swimmin Time' LP Out Now

Shovels and Rope's highly-praised record, Swimmin' Time, is now available in stores and online!

Download">georiot.co on iTunes.
Download">georiot.co the deluxe version on iTunes.
Purchase via Google Play.

Pick">bit.ly up an LP on our webstore.

Shovels and Rope have three Canadian dates on their forthcoming North American tour. See below.

Sept 28 - Montreal, QC - Corona Theatre">bit.ly - Tickets
Sept 30 - Toronto, ON - The Phoenix">bit.ly - Tickets
Nov 12 - Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw Theatre">bit.ly - Tickets
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New Shovels and Rope Track, "Evil"

Hear">soundcloud.com the new Shovels and Rope tune, "Evil," off their forthcoming album Swimmin' Time.

Sep 28 - Montreal, QC - Corona Theatre (Tickets)bit.ly /> Sep 30 - Toronto, ON - The Phoenix (Tickets)bit.ly /> Nov 12 - Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw Theatre (Tickets)bit.ly />
Swimmin’ Time drops August 25 in Canada. Pre-order the album on iTunes now.
Standard">bit.ly Edition
Deluxe">bit.ly Edition
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Shovels and Rope Headlining North American Tour

Shovels and Rope are set to mosey on up to Canada this fall! Tickets on sale this Friday, July 18 at 10AM. Dates below!

Sep 28 - Montreal, QC - Corona Theatre (Tickets)bit.ly /> Sep 30 - Toronto, ON - The Phoenix (Tickets)bit.ly /> Nov 12 - Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw Theatre (Tickets)bit.ly />
Swimmin’ Time drops August 25 in Canada. Pre-order the album on iTunes now.
Standard">bit.ly Edition
Deluxe">bit.ly Edition
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Pre-order Shovels and Rope Swimmin' Time now

PRE-ORDER the highly anticipated sophomore album, Swimmin' Time, from Shovels and Rope now!

Recorded at home in Charleston, SC, Swimmin' Time highlights 13 tracks featuring classic Shovels and Rope elements, while incorporating new influences to the mix.

Get the album here.
georiot.co target="_blank">Get the deluxe version here.

Be sure to catch the duo in Canada next month:

07.05 - TURF - Toronto Urban Roots Festival - Toronto, ON
07.05 - Lee's Palace (TURF Club Bonus Series) - Toronto, ON
07.06 - RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest - Ottawa, ON
07.11 - Winnipeg Folk Festival - Manitoba, MB
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Shovels & Rope announce new album Swimmin' Time

The critically acclaimed duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, aka Shovels & Rope, are set to release their sophomore album Swimmin’ Time August 26 on Dine Alone/Dualtone, with pre-order launching June 24. A Deluxe Edition will also be digitally available, featuring two extra tracks + a video of "The Devil Is All Around".

youtu.be target="_blank">Click to watch the Swimmin' Time album trailer.

Swimmin’ Time is the highly-anticipated follow up to the band’s 2012 breakthrough debut O’ Be Joyful, which garnered unanimous praise from the press, followed by dozens of sold out shows, national television appearances, numerous year-end lists, impressive album sales and major festival performances. To cap it all off, Shovels & Rope took home two of the top honors, Song of the Year (“Birmingham”) and Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2013 Americana Music Awards.

While O’ Be Joyful was recorded at home, in hotel rooms, in their van and throughout their travels, the band remained stationary by recording Swimmin’ Time at their home studio in Charleston, SC with Trent again producing. Swimmin’ Time features 13 new songs that maintain the elemental Shovels & Rope songwriting and sound while incorporating new ingredients to the mix. From the heady harmonies of “The Devil Is All Around” and the quirky “Mary Ann & One-Eyed Dan” to the epic beauty of “After The Storm” and the Waits-ian “Ohio” fans are sure to be pleased and pleasantly surprised by some of the chosen new paths and dark turns.

Upcoming Canadian tour dates include coveted slots at Toronto Urban Roots Festival, Ottawa Bluesfest, and Winnipeg Folk Festival. For a full list of dates, including Newport Folk Festival and Bonnaroo, bit.ly target="_blank">click here..

Shovels & Rope Canadian Tour Dates:
07.05 - Toronto Urban Roots Fest - Toronto, ON
07.05 – Lee’s Palace (TURF Club Bonus Series) - Toronto, ON
07.06 - Ottawa Blues Fest - Ottawa, ON
07.11 - Winnipeg Folk Fest - Manitoba, MB
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Shovels & Rope - The Devil Is All Around

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