Sea of Bees:
Songs for the Ravens
- Reviewed by Charis Scott-Holm
- Published on May 29th, 2011 at 5:46p.m.
After making a perilous trek down from the land of drystone walls and whippets I found myself in the big smoke of London, poised to see two of my favourite artistes of recent times, Cherry Ghost supporting Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan.
So imagine my dismay to find that Cherry Ghost had been taken ill and had been replaced with a complete unknown! Sea of Bees? Whateverrrrrrrrr....
Well, I thought I'd give them a chance, and when on stage arrived an androgynous being in a grandad pullover and acoustic guitar, my dismay was further heightened....
Never since the Susan-Boyle-Britain's-Got-No-Talent fiasco a few years back has the phrase 'never judge a book my its cover' resonated quite so strongly for me.
Because what came out of this strange, androgynous being from across the pond was beyond belief, at a voice so beautiful, and songs so ridiculously pleasurable to your listening capabilities, that I was completely blown away.
Hence, 'Songs for the Ravens' has been a pretty much weekly listen for me since February, I still can't get over the beauty of this album.
The songs are mellow, all acoustic, melodic and subdued, and perfectly show the power of singer Julie Ann Baenziger's amazing voice. They lead you to a strange, dreamy, mysterious land which resembles reality- she goes out for coffee, gets her heart broken, and spends the odd day in bed- but it sounds so remote and distanced from the noise and stress of contemporary life.
Songs 'Skinnybone' and 'Blind' really stand out with their haunting, remote echoes and the passion conveyed in the songs, and tracks like 'Wizbot', an obvious choice for a hit on the album, are heartfelt yet not pretentious or worthy.
A personal favourite is 'Sidepain', a bitter-sweet journey through unrequited love and longing, which stays characteristically upbeat all the same.
All I can say is that I'm glad there is still some glimmer of hope out there of someone who actually sounds the same on record as on stage- no auto-tuning required here.
It really puts to shame the carbon-copy bores that come from the US and dominate music in this country, where image and attitude are everything and actually having some talent- even the base requirement- the ability to sing- comes last.