Husband-and-wife Americana-folk duo Shovels & Rope had a baby girl, were taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s and recorded a new album, all in roughly the same period of time.
Now they’re on tour and headed to Richmond this week to perform from it.
“All of these things were happening at once. It was a mixture of joy and anticipation, fear and some sadness in there, too. The whole record isn’t an anxiety bomb, though,” Michael Trent, the husband half of the duo, said by phone from Ohio where the couple had stopped on tour.
“These things happen to every family: You get married, have kids; your parents grow old; and you start facing your own mortality,” Cary Ann Hearst added. “All of these things can be super overwhelming, but that’s life. It’s the ticket you pay for the party.”
“Little Seeds” was released in 2016 and lauded as the couple’s most personal work to date.
The South Carolina couple released their debut album, “O’ Be Joyful,” in 2013 and made their breakthrough with a blistering performance of their stomp-worthy song “Birmingham” on the “Late Show with Dave Letterman.”
Since then, they’ve released two more albums, including “Little Seeds.”
Besides the storytelling songs they are known for, the new album also touched on their personal life, from marital issues to dealing with grief.
The couple recorded the album in their home in Charleston, S.C., shortly after their daughter, Louisiana Jean, was born.
They had to plan their recording process around their daughter. On loud heavy drumming days, Hearst said, she’d put Louie in her stroller and stroll around the neighborhood.
“Everything in this family is divide and conquer,” she said. “I was a nursing mother, recovering from a C-section. I’ve never been more distracted in my life.”
But when Louie got older, she started getting into the music. “When she was 3 months old, we’d put her in her Johnny Jump-Up and she’d be jumping up and down to the music,” Hearst said.
Now at age 2, Louie is able to join the couple on their tour, “An Evening with Shovels & Rope.”
This tour is “smaller than we normally play, so we can try out material and play some songs that we don’t normally get to perform,” Trent said.
The couple will be playing from all of their albums in Richmond, as well as some new songs that they’ve recently written.
Shovels & Rope have played Friday Cheers, and Hearst said she’s especially looking forward to catching up with Richmond musician J. Roddy Walston when they’re in town.
“We always try to get together. They have a daughter, too,” she said. “And there’s this great Jewish deli in Richmond ... Perly’s. I want to go there again and get a knish.”