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The strength, innocence, honesty and purity of intention that flows throughout Sea of Bees’ debut, Songs For the Ravens, manifests itself compositionally and technically – most immediately with the laser beam pull of Jules’ captivating voice. She’s so versatile, not only as a vocalist but as a songwriter, that Songs For The Ravens finds her masterfully navigating Americana-tinged stompers (Sidepain), heavy, trotting expanses (Marmalade), soaring harmonic rock sorrow (Wizbot) and keyboard-brightened musings (Willis). Aside from the drums and a few other instrumental lines, Jules wrote and played every single bit of the entire album – including handheld percussion, glockenspiel, guitar, bass, keys, marimba and slide. This is a record that will soothe your broken heart, commiserate with you when you’re angry, befriend you when you’re lonely and celebrate life with you through the pure joy of its being. Longing is expressed with hope; sadness with understanding. Its scope, intensity and solidity would be considered stunning for any weathered artist; it’s simply astounding here.
Robin Hilton of NPR names ‘Songs For the Ravens’ in his Top 10 of 2010.
“Took me about 50 seconds — the length of the woozy, haunting intro to “Marmalade” — to completely fall for Sea of Bees, the nom de tune of Sacramento indie-popper Julie Baenziger. Her debut album “Songs for the Ravens” sounds folky in some places, gauzy and ambient in others and twee as hell in still others, but beautiful throughout, and a potent reminder that emotional virtue is an artist’s most precious commodity. This one’s special, folks, let’s not screw it up.”
-Kevin Bronson, Buzzbands LA, LA Weekly
GUARDIAN UK REVIEW “Singing so close to the microphone that she scrapes it with her nose, her vocals are simultaneously childlike and aged, intimate and astonishing.”
PLANET NOTION INTERVIEW “Fresh from the release of her debut LP ‘Songs For The Ravens’, Sea Of Bees (a.k.a. Sacramento songsmith Julie Ann Baenziger) is tugging on the heartstrings of folk fans all over with her heartfelt lyrics, powerful harmonies and impressive sense of melody.
BBC MUSIC REVIEW “Julie Ann Baenziger is a Californian singer and multi-instrumentalist whose accomplished debut album is washed over in atmospheric weird folk, with the songs being a vehicle for creating landscapes of withdrawn emotion that recall Midlake’s The Trials of Van Occupanther.
Q THE MUSIC “Self-described as freak-folk, the Scaramento native mixes woozy vocals with guitar, that in the case of The Woods possesses a sound, on-the-surface not too dissimilar to Joanna Newsom with raised-pitch, skewing vocals adding a naive or slightly child-like quality.”
THE IRISH TIMES “Baenziger’s loveably geeky persona suits her music down to the ground. Songs for the Ravens has been in the making since she first picked up a battered, one-stringed guitar as a 16-year-old. A charming combination of Cathy Davey-style quirkiness, Jenny Lewis’s pop melodiousness and Micachu’s DIY ethos, tunes such as Skinnybone and Fyre fizz and crackle with an understated vibrance.”
THIS MUSIC WINS SHOW REVIEW “She stays tight to the microphone at all times, with body language so rigid and intense it seems strange to imagine such a fragile vocal and huge emotional scope being so effectively communicated. Baenziger’s performance suggests something about her weathered but at the same time naive, youthful but equally suggestive that there is something more to the colourful chord changes and reserved vocal harmonies than merely beautiful arrangements and whispery acoustics.”
THE QUIETUS “The lyrics are poignant and well plotted, but as attractive as they may be, are overshadowed by the most striking element of this record – the delicate, childlike tone of Baenziger’s voice. From the opening wail of ‘Gnomes’ through to the lilting sighs of closing track ‘Blind’, her voice is captivating – fragile and young. Accompanying these sumptuous vocals which are at times reminiscent of recent Joanna Newsom creations, Baenziger has meticulously woven together guitar lines, cellos, marimbas, piano and vocal tracks to create an environment suitable for the tales she has to tell.”
THE 405 “The first release from Sea of Bees, the perfectly titled Bee Eee Pee EP, was something that seemed hard to beat. It set an incredibly high benchmark with its lovingly crafted brand of lo-fi indie folk, full of raw emotion and pure talent. Yet it would seem that Julia Baenziger has surpassed herself with her first full length release.”
STEREOBOARD.COM “Finally bringing her first long-player over to British shores, the Californian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist introduces us to a strangely unique blend of haunting country music, pleasant-sounding folk and electronic psychedelia, all centred around Julie’s gentle but imposing voice.”
GOD IS IN THE TV “If 2011 doesn’t belong to Sea of Bees, something will have gone very wrong indeed.”