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ACL Fest review: Shovels & Rope

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Michael Corcoran

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 11, 2013

“Whenever we play a big music festival it always stops raining when we’re about to start,” said Carrie Ann Hearst of the rockin’ country duo Shovels & Rope. Apparently her and husband Michael Trent had no such power over humidity. But the mugginess was ripe for the band’s murder ballads and swampy rhythms.

Hearst and Trent are quite different musically- think of a duo of Dolly Parton and Jackson Browne- but they absolutely gelled on such crowd favorites as “O Be Joyful,” “Keeper” and “Cavalier.” Then came their biggest song “Birmingham,” which was resently named song of the year by the Americana Music Awards. But Shovels are not a song of the year kinda band and the audience just grooved to that one as they did all the rest. No hooting, thank God.

Hearst also introduced a new song that the band’s been messing around with on the 40-date tour which ended at 3_25 p.m. Sunday. “Nobody Knows It Like You Do” takes the band in more of a gospel direction, with the words “make your peace with God” serving as spiritual foundation. That number gives a nice glimpse of the next album, which should find the duo expanding on their gutbucket country sound. “Hail Hail” to Shovels & Rope, who kept the crowd with the sun in their eyes and trendier sounds bouncing from all around.