The BeeKeepers – Songs from the Hive, Vol. 1
By: John McCall
The BeeKeepers, a trio from the Norwich, Connecticut area, are singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists whose self produced debut Songs from the Hive, Vol. 1 is certain to make waves in the Americana music community, but their appeal obviously extends beyond those borders. They’ve scored big on nearly one hundred radio stations from sea to shining sea and their music has landed on numerous television programming, primarily on the MTV Network, while never sacrificing any of their well deserved credibility as a satisfying and substantive musical unit. This is never paint by numbers Americana – instead, the six songs on Songs from the Hive, Vol. 1 definitely pay tribute to the Americana influences they obviously understand front to back, but they are also thoroughly modern performers who want these songs to live rather than sounding like the aural equivalent of butterflies pinned under glass. Each of the songs on this collection are testament to that ambition and their obvious success following it through.
“What a Day” picks up a common turn of phrase and really makes something out of it thanks to the obvious artistry in the trio’s approach. The multi-instrumental talents of this trio are never presented in a gaudy fashion – instead, they are consistently serving the song first and foremost and any instrumental fireworks generated on Songs from the Hive are a fortunate by-product of those ethos. The trio comes off as, perhaps, leading with their two best feet forward, so to speak, with the second song “Indecision” as it pairs up quite nicely with the EP’s first song and features an exceptional lyric from Sylvie Abate given an evocative reading from lead vocalist Amanda Sullivan. The same economy pervading their musical arrangements finds particularly fine expression here and the lines stand on their own, even separated from the music, as exceptional writing.
“Old Textile Town” is, arguably, much more straight forward in its musical approach than any of the EP’s other five songs and the harmonies are more supportive rather than manifesting themselves as a feature of their own. The song’s lyrics, likewise, take on a traditional topic in blues and folk songs without ever sounding like the trio are merely trying to mimic such things – instead, they put their own stamp on things and come out sounding quite original. “Pretty Words” is another of the EP’s gems with its cello accompaniment courtesy of guest musician Cleo Flemming and has a light sense of sadness running through the song setting it apart from the remainder of the release. The BeeKeepers close things with the song “We Both Know” and this Merlin driven tale of uneasy love brings things to an end on a personal note, but never so personal that listeners won’t easily find a way into the song. The Connecticut based trio is well on their way to even more live dates, future releases, and fulsome praise with this release and The BeeKeepers will go even higher with each new turn in their careers.