Image: Michelle Grace Hunder (Supplied)

Love Letter To A Record: Baby Velvet On Shovels & Rope’s ‘Swimmin’ Time’

Melbourne artist Baby Velvet, whose debut album, Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else, is out now, pens a love letter to Swimmin’ Time, the third album by American duo Shovels & Rope.

We often associate particular albums with pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the music that soundtracked your first kiss, or the one that inspired you to take a leap into the unknown, music helps shape who we become.

Music Feeds’ Love Letter To A Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share stories about how the music they love has influenced their lives.

Baby Velvet On Shovels & Rope’s Swimmin’ Time

Dear Shovels & Rope,

In 2017 I discovered Shakey Graves, my dream future husband (here’s hoping), via a Spotify session he did with Esme Patterson (if anyone doesn’t know her go look her up). I fell in love, true fan girl fever, with the man and the music, to the point where one late night in Berlin I almost tattooed him on my arm. When he came to Australia he was supporting you, Shovels & Rope, at The Factory Theatre in Sydney. I bought a ticket not knowing who you were but ready to see my future husband perform.

The minute you stepped out onto that stage, I no longer cared about anything else other than the music you were creating. You played an album of yours, Swimmin’ Time, and I became obsessed. Cary Ann Hearst, drummer and vocalist, what can I say – you own my heart above all others. Your raw passion, musicianship, humour, energy… I could only ever dream of being one tenth of the musician you are. The partnership between the two of you sounds like you have been playing together since you were children. The incredible vocal blend, the way your voices weave together, the emotion behind each lyric, each line.

That night after the show, your manager stood out the front of the venue selling records. I took one home and I think I’ve listened to it every day since. I think it’s rare to be able to capture that kind of raw energy on an album, especially when it’s two folk musicians with very beautiful songs. I’ve found that sometimes, once you get people into the studio, you lose some of the live magic. But this is not that album.

Self-produced at your studio in North Carolina, you can feel the warmth and love that went into this record, the time it took, the patience you must have had to get exactly what you wanted out of each song. The slow instrumental builds in ‘Bridge on Fire’ and ‘After the Storm’; the devastating lyrics in ‘The Devil Is All Around’; the humour in ‘Fish Assassin’; the moodiness of ‘Swimmin’ Time’ – this album is pure joy. You invite the listener into your world, your relationship, your love, and your love of songwriting and performing.

My album, Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else, has you all over it, specifically my track ‘Best In Show’. That night at The Factory Theatre, I went home and over that next week I wrote that song with this album in mind. The trashing piano sound, the kick drum, the bridge build – it’s all you.

Thank you for making this album and for inspiring me to make art.

With Love,

Baby Velvet

Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else, the debut album from Baby Velvet, is out now.

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