Holy Hive is a Brooklyn-based soul act featuring:
- Paul Spring, a St. Cloud, MN-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who spent his formative years studying ancient languages, poetry and classical guitar before making a name for himself as a folk artist, eventually self-releasing seven albums, including a well-received children’s album Home of Song.
- Homer Steinweiss, a Brooklyn-born and-based drummer, who has played, toured and recorded with a who’s who of contemporary soul and pop music including Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, The Jonas Brothers, St. Vincent, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings— before settling into a highly-south after session player.
- Joe Harrison, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist who has played with Frank Dukes and Charles Bradley.
The band can trace its origins to when Spring and Steinwess met on a Minnesota farm through their respective girlfriends, who are cousins. Steinweiss and Spring soon began a long-distance friendship, which, over time developed into a folk music recording project. Harrison, was working at a studio assistant at The Diamond Mine Studios at the time and he started to sit in on the duo’s sessions, eventually joining the band as a full-time member in 2015 when the band began recording as Holy Hive.
In 2016 Spring relocated to New York and the members of Holy Hive were invited to tour with JOVM mainstay Lee Fields. That tour dramatically changed their approach and sound: after the tour they began exploring the relationships between the traditions and lyricism of folk and the aesthetics and rhythms of soul music — seamlessly meshing them into something anachronistic yet uniquely theirs. And with a new sound, they began honing their sound with a year-long monthly resident at Red Hook, Brooklyn-based dive bar Sunny’s with a rotating cast of collaborators. Then they spent the next couple of years working on folk and soul inspired material that thematically focused on love and loss.
The end result is the band’s long-awaited full-length debut Float Back to You. Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Big Crown Records, the album is the follow-up to their critically applauded debut EP Harping and a string of well-received singles. Recorded at Steinwess’ Diamond Mind Studios, the album was produced by Steinwess and consists of 10 originals, a cover of Honeybus’ “Be Thou By My Side” and a re-working of the old Irish folk standard “Red is the Rose.” The album also features an impressive array of guest stars including Mary Lattimore (harp), El Michels Affair’s Leon Michels (sax, keys), The Shacks‘ Shannon Wise (backing vocals), The Roots’ Dave Guy (trumpet), Nick Movshon (bass) and Spring’s wife Sophia Heymans (piano).
Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single “Broom.” Tracing its origins back to the band’s first tour with Lee Fields, the track is a shimmering and mournful bit of blue-eyed soul meets 60s folk. “At the time, we were a folk trio with nylon guitars playing Nick Drake inspired arrangements,” the band’s Homer Steinweiss recalls in press notes. “These songs did not go over too well with the So-Cal soul audience. Inspired by Lee’s music, we saw a need to write a more soulful song to appeal to them. After covering Donnie and Joe Emerson’s ‘Baby’ in San Diego, Joe made some chords, Homer laid a beat and paul activated the falsetto to make this tune.” Interestingly, “Float Back To You,” the slow-burning and shimmering third album single and album title track is a achingly plaintive ballad that further cements the band’s sound — in particular, I’m reminded Simon & Garfunkel, Scott Walker and blue-eyed sound.
Featuring line animation by Sophia Heymans, the recently released video for “Float Back To You,” the video manages to capture those things we can’t quite have — carefree summer afternoons and nights, while following a woman, who decides to take various garden gnomes, rocking horses and the like into her home to read to them. It’s a simple yet surreal fantasy centered around the sort of feverish nostalgia we all have right now.