Shovels & Rope Talk Music and Marriage on ‘Manticore,’ Featuring Singles “Bleed Me,” “The Show”

Love and marriage have their ups and downs. Shovels & Rope’s Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent know it all too well and excavate the good, the bad, and ugly of their life and music together on Manticore (Dualtone Music), due out Feb. 18. 

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With the lyics From the back of my mind / To the tip of my spine / From before there was time / To the corners of my eye / You are the best part, “Bleed Me” is a more tender, blood-sucking ode, running more than five minutes on the love the couple has for their children, through the refrain of You are the best part.

“Most parents know the transformative power of your relationship with your child,” share the couple. “It’s such a gift but it requires everything of yourself. This song is a love song to our kids, an assurance that we will always be willing to give them everything of ourselves, even sometimes when it feels like there’s nothing left to give.”

Hearst and Trent add, “Sure the theme is vampiric, but vampires, like love, live forever.”

A follow-up to the 2019 release By Blood, on Manticore, Shovels & Rope reveal the more personal, peripheral, and parental narrative of their lives.

In the song, “The Show,” the pair explore the see saw of living on stage and in the real world. Written three weeks into the pandemic, “The Show” is a broodier croon around the uncertainties faced together in the lyrics I feel the sorrow of a million tears / The evolution of a million fears / And when the world’s on fire / There are days I couldn’t make it along / But for the song / I’m taking off my show tonight / Turn off the flash. The neon sign / Crawl through the city till I find your side.

“While most of the songs on Manticore were written well before the big break, ‘The Show’ was finished in the early months of the pandemic, deep enough into the quarantine that we had had time to do some serious self-reflection, reckon with our mortality, morality and carnality, and identify some of the walls that needed to come down between us,” say the couple. 

It’s a song where the characters are agreeing to set aside all conscriptions of externalized bullshit,” they add, “and reconnect with their residual better selves.”

Photo: Leslie Ryan McKellar / All Eyes Media

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