Shovels & Rope has been pumping out consistently solid music since their 2012 album O’ Be Joyful, but Little Seeds has proven to be more than just solid. An evocative and compositionally diverse record, Little Seeds is the band’s third record and by far its most established. The band has found perfect balance on the tightrope between contemporary folk and White Stripes-era alternative, on which they’ve been sort of teetering cautiously for years.
With the qualitatively folk narratives and acoustic arrangement, layered on top of socially aware and contextually relevant lyrics and a fearlessness in overall composition, incorporating dissonance and ambience in places that may not come as a first impulse to many folk artists, Little Seeds begins to truly transcend the genre. The traditional form was maintained just enough to give the listener all of the feelings they seek in folk music (either nostalgic joy or melancholy resolution), but challenged enough to demand attention. Each track seems to lead right into the next, building the album one track at a time and keeping the listener actively invested in each track.
Standout tracks on this album are Buffalo Nickel – a crunchy, post-punk influenced, Jack-White-gone-solo sounding track that digs so deep with its penetrating and brave orchestration that its almost difficult to really absorb the whole song at first listen and gives a chilling transition into Mourning Song– and single Botched Execution– a lyric focused track with phenomenal diction and catchy, yet musically unconventional hook to make for a near perfect single.
Little Seeds is one of the best folk albums to be released this year in its heterogeneous-ness, challenging of the form, truthful and poignant lyrics, and harmony between the traditions of the genre and the incorporation of details that may not be qualitative in typical folk music. A great addition to the Shovels & Rope discography.