Over the course of their near decade-long recording career, husband-and-wife duo Shovels & Rope — comprised of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst — have earned a reputation as fine storytellers, with a gift for vibrant character songs. On Oct. 7, they’ll release Little Seeds, their fifth and rawest LP to date. And today, EW is excited to premiere the music video for “Botched Execution,” a thrilling get-out-of-jail plot-driven rocker.
When the couple began work on Seeds last fall it was under unfamiliar, and extreme circumstances. They were awaiting the birth of their first child, Trent’s parents were moving in with the couple, as his father had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and the two were grieving the murder of a friend. “We were experiencing a whole lot of life at the same time,” recalls Trent.
And while that onslaught of emotion inspired some of the duo’s most personal work yet, it also improved their story-songs, like “Botched Execution.” The track has an unprecedented rawness for Shovels & Rope, a humorous and wary sense of knowing — a result, says Hearst, of “how tender we’d been for a while.”
Trent is equally happy with how the tune turned out, though he admits it’s not exactly what they intended at its beginnings. “We wanted to write a serious song about [the death penalty],” he says. “But then it ended up kind of funny and dark and weird — and kind of fun.”
The accompanying video matches his description. Trent and Hearst’s friend, Curtis Wayne Millard, a graphic designer who directed the clip, pitched the duo a throwback comic book treatment and they bit immediately. “It’s really fun,” says Trent. “You have your own vision of what these characters look like when you’re writing — and how the scenery looks and the landscapes — and then when somebody else shares what it inspires out of them, it’s mind blowing.”
Shovels & Rope’s tour in support of Little Seeds launches Sept 29. After, they hope the album finds its way into listeners’ lives. “I hope people who like our music will go for it,” says Hearst. “There’s so much light and human stuff on this record. I think it’s the sweetest we’ve ever been, but also the most raucous we’ve ever been, and the biggest our sound has ever been.”