The story of Shovels & Rope is one that continues to be told. While the Americana duo has spent the last couple of years refining their craft, success on all levels has followed and with it has come another chapter, Swimmin’ Time, their sophomore album that will be released on Aug. 26.
Surrounding the release of Swimmin’ Time, the group has three marquee performances in Nashville, with the first being an opening slot for Old Crow Medicine Show at Woods at Fontanel on Aug. 23.
After this appearance, Shovels & Rope will perform at Grimey’s for an in-store show on Aug. 24 and they will make their debut at the Grand Ole Opry on Aug. 26 when their new album debuts. As most would agree, this run of shows is one that a musician of any ilk would desire.
Cary Ann Hearst, who grew up in Nashville knows the history of Music City, says “to be invited to play the Opry is important and it’s great to be part of that legacy.”
This past year, the duo of Hearst and husband Michael Trent, took home awards from the Americana Music Association and were the subject of a documentary titled “The Ballad of Shovels & Rope” from The Moving Picture Boys who premiered the film at the Nashville Film Festival earlier this year.
“They would follow us around for a couple of days and they would do their thing. Nobody knew what was going to happen. They were good guys and we felt comfortable with that and it was what was happening and part of the story,” Trent said about the experience.
When it comes to touring, they have been busy, playing stages such as Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and other gigs on the festival circuit. At the same time, they’ve played more intimate venues with a smaller capacity, and this is where you get the full Shovels & Rope experience as a fan.
“We’re learning to play on some bigger stages. As the stages have grown, we keep our thing the same. With lighting, it doesn’t feel like a huge stage,” Hearst said about the difference between festival stages and club venues.
“You just trade the vibe. It becomes a free-for-all vibe. We figure out how to do our best no matter what situation we are in,” she added.”
As for Swimmin’ Time, the new album has an aquatic theme and the lead track “The Devil is All Around,” has hit the market and is a perfect segue from O’ Be Joyful.
Regarding, O’ Be Joyful, it appeared as it was an introduction to the group with tracks such as “Birmingham” and Shovels spent a few years in support of it, all the while, telling their story and spreading their name and brand to the masses.
Over this span, the group went on to sell more than 60,000 albums the old fashioned way where they connected with the individual listener and gained an abundance of fans.
When comparing and contrasting the two albums, Trent says Swimmin’ Time is more of an extension rather than a totally new palette of work.
“For the most part, it is a continuation but it is more broad. There are some heavier sounds and some tender moments. It’s a bigger circle,” Trent added.
“If O’ Be Joyful was a peach pit, this one is a grapefruit,” he added.
The album was recorded in Trent’s home studio last winter and it was mixed at Electric Lady Studios.
With a new collection of songs in the bag, Hearst said one of her favorites to play is “Bridge on Fire,” while Trent says they are learning to play many of the new tracks live. All in all, the album features 13 songs in total.
After their Nashville dates, the group will has several more stops but will return to Tennessee on Oct. 8 at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tenn.
For more information, visit shovelsandrope.com.