O' Be Joyful
The married couple of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent blend two distinct voices into a rough-and-rowdy recipe on their debut as Shovels & Rope. Their chemistry is palpable. Her powerhouse pipes are gritty and sultry; his voice is warm and wounded. When they're woven together, the harmonies grab hold. A primal mix of country, blues, and rock 'n’ roll, O’ Be Joyful is a delight from start to finish. Hearst and Trent have released strong work as solo artists, but they shine as a duo. They write the songs and play nearly all of the instruments, and their music is both fun and emotionally rich. They can belt it out on the stripped-down stompers “Keeper,” “Hail Hail,” and “Tickin’ Bomb” and then tone down the wildness on moving ballads like “Lay Low” and “This Means War.” The overall sound is raw and sparse, yet they infuse the songs with enough life to transcend the minimal arrangements. O’ Be Joyful is a sign of big things to come.