Album Review: Sea Of Bees

orangefarben (heavenly / team love records)

Sea of Bees; the one-woman band otherwise known as Julie Ann Baenziger, is a self-taught, multi-instrumentalist well known for her recording projects. Since cutting her first record, Bee Eee Pee EP, in one afternoon, the singer is back with her second full-length album, Orangefarben.

Orangefarben; literally translated as 'The Color Of Orange', was recorded with John Baccigaluppi at Hangar Studios in California, and has already had much comparison to Joanna Newsom and Joni Mitchell's Blue. Born in Sacramento, Julie, imprints her experiences and relationships onto the record, resulting in what is essentially an album of break-up songs written for her former girlfriend; a continuation of her first album, Songs For The Ravens.

The album's one-word, juxtaposing title tracks (Take, Give) create a sense of sparseness and minimalism, while Julie's beautiful vocal quality suggest fragility and vulnerability. Orangefarben incorporates multi-layered combinations of instruments, including marimba, strings and pedal steel guitars, as well as the the usual staples. But overall, there is a Folk theme running through, with many tracks taking on an acoustic feel.

The record opens with Broke, featuring the line: "You want my heart but you're heartbroke. I tried to love you but it did not work". The track is an upbeat, Cranberries-style Folk-Rock anthem, with Julie's voice breaking into stylistic squeaks at the end of certain lines; a nice embellishment to contrast against the band's full accompaniment.

Emotions of heartbreak, pain, loss and confession are carried through the album in a mostly cheerful demeanour, flowing in and out of each song with flurries of warmth and confidence in amongst the darker melancholy. Tracks like Alien highlight Julie's vocals, quivering intensely with every syllable, whereas the poppier Girl, and the lull of Teeth showing different sides of Julie, captivating, still. There's a certain ambience present in all the tracks, and a mesmerising nature with songs such as Grew.

Also featured on the record is a stunning cover of John Denver's Folk classic, Leaving [On A Jet Plane], with compelling harmonies that float delicately over a simple arrangement of acoustic guitar, bass and swirling string chords.

The simplistic arrangements and refreshing instrumentation of Orangefarben make these songs hard to resist. Julie's vocals are definitely the most unique I've heard in a long time, and the high standard of songwriting is sure to see Sea Of Bees sticking around for a while yet.

You can listen to the album below: