Paste (magazine) - "Charming, rustic and seemingly all the cuff, theirs is an unpretentious approach befitting those back-porch roots."
Audio Mixer: Andy Dixon.
Liner Note Authors: Michael Trent; Charles Darwin; Cary Ann.
Photographer: Paul Bannister.
Arranger: Michael Trent.
Most artists are deeper into their career than Shovels & Rope when they decide to devote an entire album to covers; Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent had only released three LPs' worth of their own stuff before deciding it was time to start digging into other folks' songbooks with 2015's Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1. The album also finds S&R collaborating with a handful of other artists, with each tune featuring different guest vocalists or musicians who help the duo bring it home. Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1 gives Shovels & Rope a chance to show what they can do as interpreters and collaborators, and this concept plays to their strengths. Hearst and Trent's deep and greasy blend of Americana and indie rock works well with this eclectic batch of material, which ranges from vintage R&B (Toussaint McCall's "Nothing Takes the Place of You") and classic rock (Neil Young's "Unknown Legend") to Hearst and Trent's not-so-guilty teenage pleasures ("Patience" by Guns N' Roses and "Last" by Nine Inch Nails). They also work with artists who mesh well with their musical sense, in which they respect tradition while messing with it a little at the same time, and the songs are by and large stronger than their own work (which is no insult given the pedigree of the writers they're interpreting here). The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a fine fit for the mingled warmth and regret of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," the Milk Carton Kids provide the right "3 A.M. in a cheap motel room vibe" on "Patience," Lucius add a welcome gospel undertow to Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," and JD McPherson wins Best in Show honors for his passionate and heartfelt reading of "Nothing Takes the Place of You." Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1 seems less like a stopgap than it might be coming from many artists, and it not only captures Shovels & Rope sounding strong and imaginative, it shows they have good taste in songwriters and performing partners, two qualities that never hurt. ~ Mark Deming