Brooklyn based trio Holy Hive pairs transient harmonies and Paul Spring’s exceptional falsetto with poetic lyrics in their tranquil debut album Float Back To You. Following their acclaimed EP Harping and successful live shows, Holy Hive combines Spring’s folk guitar playing, Homer Steinweiss’ precise drums and Joe Harrison’s grounding bass to create their soulful, vintage sound. The album also features several guest musicians, including Mary Lattimore on the harp, Leon Michels on saxophone and keys, Shannon Wise on backing vocals, Dave Guy on trumpet, Nick Movshon on bass, and Spring’s wife Sophia Heymans on the piano. Each of these talented musicians brings something unique to the table, pushing Float Back To You passed the boundary of a simple folk or soul album.

While generally, the album is laden with dreamy harmonies and jazzy drums and bass, each of the songs also brings their own individual flair. “Broom”, “Hypnosis”, “Blue Light”, and “Float Back To You” each use the dreamy sound to their advantage. “Broom” parlays the hazy harmonies into a smooth brass interlude. “Hypnosis” uses them along with harp and electric piano to create a mesmerizing sound. “Blue Light” sounds like lounge music and has a pensive, wistful mood to it. The harmonies in the title track “Float Back To You” serve to augment the potent feeling of longing within it. These tunes all feel suspended in the air, but each in subtly different ways.

Other songs on Float Back To You take on a more unique persona and use surprising harmonies to pique your interest. “Oh I Miss Her So” is undoubtedly a standout track. Its whimsical use of harp sounds like something out of a fairy tale, and the unexpected harmonic changes are enchanting. The beginning of the song floats into the sky, but then the drums bring it back down to earth and drive a gentle groove. “Red Is The Rose”, on the other hand, is more mysterious, and carries with it undertones of sadness. It is a reimagining of an Irish folk tune, and the mystical music really plays into that folklore element. “Embers to Ash” also has a darker, almost spooky tone to it created by the electric organ and phantom-like keys. The concluding track on the album, “Sophia’s Part”, begins with discordant piano notes, yet the clash isn’t unpleasant. In fact, as the motive repeats it slowly becomes pleasingly crunchy. All of the instruments in this song seem to be completely in their own world, yet somehow the song remains cohesive and satisfying.

Paralleling one another both in title and in sound, “Be Thou By My Side” and “You Will Always Be By My Side Forever” are two love songs that feel more like classic folk. “Be Thou By My Side” features some beautiful guitar picking and is simple, tender, and infused with love. “You Will Always Be By My Side Forever” has more going on, but still has a folk quality to it. While its music is somewhat sparse, it gets the message across, and the sax and jazz organ outro prolong the easy vibe of this track to ease you into the final song.

Finally, we have the individuals of the album. The bass, drums, and piano at the beginning of “Didn’t You Say” have the most obvious jazz/funk sound to them, and the harmonies in the chorus are delicately soulful. This track shares a lot of the same characteristics as the others (falsetto, touches of brass, jazz undertones), but it also feels as though it could easily stand on its own. It finishes with a fleeting piano outro that transitions into “Embers To Ash.” “Cynthia’s Celebration” is an instrumental interlude. This is an unexpected inclusion but at the same time it makes total sense considering the abundance of skilled musicians at the band’s disposal. In it, blurred sounds from the bass, harp, and electric keys are set against the crisp drums and piano, making for a relaxed but engaging sound.

Float Back To You has a lot to offer. It uses several elements to produce twelve songs that calm your mind but excite your heart. The album is available digitally, on CD and on vinyl, so you can listen to it however you please. You can also watch the music videos for “Broom”, “Be Thou By My Side”, and “Float Back To You.”

Katy Mombourquette
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