The Hold Steady are releasing their eighth studio album Open Door Policy on February 19, but ahead of that they’re helping us see off the end of this wild first week of 2021 with a new single from it called “Heavy Covenant”. The band’s leader introduces it by saying:
“‘Heavy Covenant’ is a song about travel, technology, and human connection… The song came out of two different music pieces that THS piano/keyboardist Franz Nicolay brought in, and with the help of producer Josh Kaufman, we combined them. It came together quickly, and when our friends Stuart and Jordan came in and added the horns to the chorus it really seemed to bring it together. To us, this song is a great indication of where the band’s sound is at in 2021.”
Indeed, as Finn suggests, “Heavy Covenant” is very much a modern Hold Steady sound, with synthesizer tones forming the core of the song while guitar and drums prop up the edges. Of course, Finn’s own voice and storytelling are at the forefront, and perhaps even clearer than ever in this pearlescent reimagining of their bar rock sound. As usual, there is too much in Finn’s lyricism to delve into here, but his usual themes of emotional connection, being strung out on love and music are prevalent, the emotional hits matching step with the musical ones to add emphasis to his compelling yarn.