There’s something of the Scandinavian about Julie Baenziger and her one-woman band, Sea of Bees, which may come as a surprise to this Californian native but I can assure her that it’s a compliment. Perhaps it’s the ethereal quality to her voice or her penchant for the deep twinkly sound that our European cousins do so well or the fact that her voice on Songs for the Ravens has a distinct twang of a more laidback Nina Persson. Whatever it is, it works.
While this is Baenziger’s debut full-length record it was the recording of her EP ‘Bee Eee Pee’ which turned her into something of a legend when it was revealed that the five-track was recorded a mere 24 hours after Baenziger was shown how to use recording software, ProTools, by producer John Baccigaluppi.
‘Bee Eee Pee’ was so beloved because of its low production and high emotion factor and those qualities have only been expanded on for Songs for the Ravens. The record projects itself as a hybrid of tunes all tied together via the lazy warmness of Baenziger’s voice. “Gnomes” kicks it all off with a wail, backed by a surfy drumbeat while “Skinnybone” drifts along with lilting vocals alongside the echo of an organ and lyrical musings on wanting to ‘hug you day and night’. “Marmalade” has a much darker and deeper beat as does “Sidepain” with its talk of whisky-drinking and broken hearts, which is what keeps this record so interesting and moreish as you witness the tracks tumble between dark and light.
Songs for the Ravens is, I suspect much like it’s author, sweet and complex and the debut album that fans of her EP will be have been waiting for.
Words: Nikki Dodds
*first published 21 April 2010*