Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, the husband-and-wife team who make up Shovels and Rope, are in the studio working on the follow-up to their excellent 2012 album, O’ Be Joyful. They also recently made time to play host to their friend J. Roddy Walston in the backyard of the couple’s home in Charleston, South Carolina, where the threesome thoroughly reimagined the singer’s “Boys Can Never Tell” from the J. Roddy Walston & The Business album Essential Tremors.
In this very much down-home video, Trent and Hearst take the lead on Walston’s song – him on acoustic guitar, her playing a small drum kit – while the songwriter accompanies them on a portable electric piano. There’s a red Solo cup on the grass at Hearst’s feet, a fire in the firepit and a rooster wandering about, and Walston is wearing a sweater straight out of the Dude’s closet. They’re clearly kicking back.
“I think you can judge the quality of life in a city based on the number of porches in use, and whether or not Shovels and Rope live there,” Walston tells Rolling Stone. “By that standard, Charleston is the greatest city on the planet Earth.”
What the harmonizing couple brought to his lyrics amazed Walston. “I thought I understood the song that I had written, but watching them twist and turn and bend it to their will made me question if I even understood English,” he raves. “There have been many amazing moments for me in the last year that hope I can hold on to forever – I’m just glad that for this one, we had some video cameras rolling.”