Sea of Bees

Songs for the Ravens

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Sea of Bees is the name chosen by one-woman band Julie Ann Baenziger for her recording projects. Baenziger grew up in California's central valley and didn't get interested in playing music until she was in her mid-teens, although a crush on a girl singer in her church choir did make her aware of music's power to sooth and wound the open heart. Baenziger eventually taught herself guitar, bass, piano, and various percussion instruments. Indie producer John Baccigaluppi, and publisher of Tape Op magazine, heard her playing in an empty recording studio and was impressed by the fragile quality of her vocals and the quiet beauty of her songs. He taught her how to use Pro-Tools and she cut her first record, Bee Eee Pee EP, in one afternoon. The EP's low-key charm got her a deal with Crossbill, and the 11-track album, Songs for the Ravens, is the result. Baenziger still plays most of the instruments on this recording, but had some help from a posse of noted indie rockers including Vetiver's Andy Cabic and Grandaddy's James Neil. The tunes are an eclectic bunch sporting cryptic names. "Skinnybone" is a sweet love song highlighted by twinkling glockenspiel and warm, multi-tracked harmony vocals: the bouncy beat of "Sidepain" takes some of the sting away from a lyric that details a night spent in brokenhearted drunkenness; "Fyre" is a song of yearning passion that drowns in a sea of staccato guitar and ambient noise; and the quiet folk rock of "Wizbot" makes it another song of unattainable love that starts out with acoustic guitar and Baenziger's quietly distressed vocal and builds slowly to a wrenching climax. The lo-fi production often makes Baenziger's laments hard to decipher, but her delicate voice drips with a heartache and loneliness that makes the tunes hard to resist.

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