Sea of Bees - Songs for the Ravens

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2011-02-07

Songs for the Ravens by Julie Ann Bee aka Sea of Bees is a set of woozy, mysterious and at times quite beautiful songs. Opener 'Gnomes' drifts in like Kate Bush stumbling through the woods with a mouthful of magic mushrooms and quickly swoons it's way into your heart. It's Bee's gentle delivery however that makes the album such an intimate experience, even if you really have no idea what she's singing about. It's the clarity of her delivery that makes Sea of Bees reminiscent of the beguiling Chan Marshall, also known as Cat Power.

Despite the songs' imagery, song titles and hints of Joanna Newsom, Bat for Lashes et al Songs for the Ravens is a relatively poppy, twee affair. Take the sentimental shuffle of 'Wizbot', a charming, simple piece of melancholy pop or the chirpy, positivity of 'The Gold'. This ability to write clear, pure pop songs and make them just odd enough to intrigue the more discerning listener is perhaps Sea of Bees greatest asset.

'Fyre' is a gorgeously languid ballad that slides through the speakers with a natural ease and grace as Bee sings of ocean floors and imminent journeys. 'Marmalade' starts with a Neil Young-esque guitar riff before Bees vocals come in and the song explodes into life - a bright, warm, technicolour sound enveloping your speakers. 'Willis' shuffles along with its laid-back electronica and Bees voice sounding ever more like a little girl lost in the big city. It's a subtle, lovely lullaby of a tune and a definite highlight.

'Won't be Long' slows things down as Bee sings over a slow, mournful organ. It's at this point you realise how wonderful her voice is as she sings, "it won't be long before I lose my mind". It's a stunning track and an impressive showcase for Julie Ann Bee's honey-like voice. 'Blind' closes the album with an understated, sad-eyed piano piece that'll melt even the stoniest heart. There's a warmth to the whole album that makes it a gentle, subtle and altogether comforting experience.

Songs for the Ravens at times feels like an album with two different approaches; there's the melodic, chirpy, poppy Sea of Bees and there's the woozy, mysterious Sea of Bees with pop-sensibilities. That's not to say that these approaches don't merge together or compliment each other, as they often do. Which direction, if either, she chooses to expand on is yet to be seen but, as debut's go, Songs for the Ravens is an intriguing listen.

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