If you were to judge Shovels & Rope’s new record by its cover, you wouldn’t be wrong to think it was a full-blown kid’s album. As the third release in their cover series known as Busted Jukebox, this volume is affectionately nicknamed “Busted Juicebox” thanks to its distinct tracklist. And while it certainly has children in mind with every note strummed or sung, Busted Jukebox, Volume 3 will no doubt be beloved by every listener, regardless of age.
With a wide range of guests — including Sharon Van Etten on a pummeling rendition of The Beach Boys’ “In My Room” to a Dr. Demento-esque take on “The Ants Go Marching” with the Shrimp Records Family Band — Volume 3 is truly a one-of-a-kind listening experience.
The artists who join Shovels & Rope’s Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent were not chosen haphazardly; they are all parents, and the songs carry varying significance for their family.
The “What a Wonderful World” cover, for example, was inspired by an illustrated children’s book featuring the song’s lyrics. Though John Paul White is the special guest on this song — and he harmonizes beautifully with Trent and Hearst — the real star is the duo’s daughter, who shows up playing piano and giving her dad some musical direction. “It explodes my heart into a million pieces for so many reasons,” Trent says of the song and his daughter’s inclusion. One of the more simply arranged covers on the album, it’s also one of the most stunning.
In a time when America remains unsettled and strained, and families face daily uncertainty of what’s to come with school, jobs, live music, and everything else in life, Busted Jukebox, Volume 3 provides glimpses of pure, unadulterated hope and joy on every track. Perhaps most hopeful, though, is the closer, a powerfully delicate version of Annie‘s “Tomorrow” featuring The War and Treaty. With a droning piano in the background, the song is lifted to the heavens thanks to the help of Tanya Blount Trotter, and the final words ring out as an anthem for 2021: “I love ya tomorrow. You’re always a day away.”