BY JOHN B. MOORE
Covers albums, usually seen as a little more than a stopgap offering between records to buy some time and keep fans from losing focus, have historically been hit or miss affairs. Thankfully, this effort from the great alt duo Shovels & Rope falls more into the former category.
Released late last month with little warning, this 10-song affair is as eclectic and original as the band, with takes on everyone from Guns N’ Roses (“Patience”) and Nine Inch Nails (“Last”) to Neil Young (“Unknown Legend”) and Allen Toussaint (“Nothing Takes the Place of You”). Few of the tracks here have been done to death (aside from possibly “(What’s So Funny) Bout Peace Love and Understanding”), and even a song you think they’re including just as a novelty, like the Guns N Roses track, comes off as genuinely sweet. The band also brought a slew of guests into the studio to help with the covers; everyone from J Roddy Watson who lends help with his own song (“Boys Can Never Tell”) and Butch Walker, again helping with one of his own (“Bullet Belt”) to Shakey Graves and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Not every track here is a keeper. The duo’s take on Nine Inch Nails’ “Last,” alongside Caroline Rose, sounds a little uninspired, but there are plenty of other really interesting songs here to make up for it.
Here’s hoping that record is not meant to be taken as an early apology for a long delayed follow up to their last studio record.
DOWNLOAD: “Bullet Belt,” “Patience” and “Perfect Day”