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Shovels & Rope: Show Preview 

Tuesday, Nov 4 2014
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It's disconcerting when you realize one of your favorite folk rock bands — let's say, Charleston duo Shovels & Rope — is hardcore Christian. At first glance, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst come across as a lovable pair of misfits. They trade off instruments (acoustic and electric six-strings, Korg keyboard, a tiny drum set), wail in twangy harmony like it's last call at the local jukejoint, and sport hipster white trash couture (wife beater, trucker hat, jean jacket, loud floral sundress).They seem like the funky kids from Fresno you shared a flask with at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. Then the lyrics hit you: "When the devil is all around/ Got you crawlin' on the ground/ On your hands and your knees/ With an apple in your mouth." A sweet image, to be sure. Vivid, witty, steeped in the blues tradition. Here's the punchline: "You will know/ How far you'll go/ To make your peace with God." This kickoff tune on the new album, Swimmin' Time, is not an anomaly. The disc glows with the light of the Spirit. It's catchy nouveau gospel for the skinny jeans sect. Despite the band's aim to "Save the World" from "Evil" and shelter us all "After the Storm," there's enough sin among the redemption in the proselytizing to touch the hearts of the least faithful urban hillbilly. Prepare for hats and hands in the air.

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Sam Prestianni

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