Shovels & Rope Cover the Beach Boys, R.E.M. and More with All-star Guests on ‘Busted Jukebox Volume 3’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Going back to 2015, the duo Shovels & Rope have a habit of sneaking out a brilliant collection of covers under the moniker Busted Jukebox to fans when they least expect it. Coming four years after the second version, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent stealthy put out Busted Jukebox Volume 3 last week, complete with a whole new set of guest collaborators, including The Felice Brothers, Sharon Van Etten, M. Ward, and a slew of others.

The albums has also been slyly dubbed the Busted Juicebox by the band, a nod to the vibe of this current collection of classics that have been rearranged. While not entirely brimming with kid songs (but there are arguably a few here), all of the tracks have a kid-friendly lullaby feel. Not surprising considering the couple are fairly new parents. The 10 songs that make up the record should be familiar to most if not all, but it’s the dreamy, almost ambient arrangements, mixed with folk guitars and sweet harmonies that make them sound so original. Some of the strongest tracks here, like the Garnet Mimms classic “Cry Baby,” featuring John McCauley and Dennis Ryan from Deer Tick or R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” boasting T. Hardy Morris. The album closer finds The War And Treaty guesting on a barebones, but devastatingly soulful “Tomorrow” from Annie, a fantastic capper to this impressive set of covers.

Surprisingly, The Beach Boys “In My Room,” which has been covered so many times it borders on cliche, proves there was actually room for one more solidly creative take on the classic with their Van Etten guesting version. “My heart swelled when Cary Ann & Michael reached out to me to sing “In My Room…,” says Van Etten. “As a mom, there are ‘go-to’ songs that help calm my son down and there are nights where I just sing the same song over and over. This is a song that is so personal to me, as we have listened to a lot of The Beach Boys music with our child and to share a sentiment of calm and exhaustion, sleep and frustration – this cover embodies it all.” And that’s the charm of these songs, and this collection as a whole; there seems to be a remarkably personal connection between a lot of these songs and the musicians singing them. There is almost a reverence to the music.   

The best part of all, the album is so completely mesmerizing, so beautifully composed that you can listen with nary a kid in sight and not come away feeling like a weird-o. 

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