Julie Baenziger returns three years after the yearning, heartache-guided Orangefarben with full-band instrumentation (drum kit!) and a lighter spirit on the contemplative but decidedly more upbeat, thematically titled Build a Boat to the Sun. A brighter indie pop can be found on tracks like the guitar-strumming "Dan" with surprising electronic bleeps, and "Dad," a loose, reflective tribute in the style of early girl groups ("ooh, sha la la"), though still splashed with Sea of Bees' faintly haunting reverb. There's a classic quality to the whole album, really. The opener, "Test Yourself," has a driving-with-the-top-down, silk-ponytail-scarf feel and sweetness as Baenziger sings of looking inward and striving for betterment. The record has sparse, more intimate tunes as well, like the slow-building acoustic-guitar ballad "Don't Follow Me" ("Don't follow me, I am lost/Trying to find my home like everyone else") and the breezily wistful, lightly twangy "Old Bridge" ("Mama, please don't cry/Don't worry 'bout my life"). However, across the board, the lyrics are more forward-thinking, about healing and gratitude rather than about being in the midst of loss. Established fans will likely welcome the new developments; it's not a shift in style so much as in attitude, and her relatable introspection is in full force, just at a different stage -- still searching but looking toward the light.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson