Americana | Rhapsody TV
August 23, 2012
For a second, all the instruments drop out of the title track of Shovels & Rope's debut, allowing space for Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent to nearly holler, "Ain't it nice to be fightin' on the winning side?" That line's ragged triumph is a good primer on the band: After years as indie songwriters, the duo has put together a collection of scrappy Americana bursting at the seams with joyful energy. Though the most exhilarating moments are sinister, banjo-and-distortion numbers -- like "Birmingham" and "Shank Hill St." -- their harmonies on "Lay Low" and "Carnival" pack an emotional wallop.
Musical rover Costello heads south. Recorded in Mississippi and channeling Memphis soul, Costello's tales of two-timing lovers, desperate lives and unforgiven evils aptly mesh with his raw vocals and the dirty twang of his longtime band. Duets by country legends Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris add to the southern feel.