Music: Songs for the Ravens by Sea of Bees ***
Move over Kimya Dawson and Joanna Newsom. There's a new kid on the freak-folk block and she's just released an album less likely to irk those nonplussed by the genre.
Twenty-five-year-old Californian Julie Ann Baenziger is the one-woman cottage industry behind Sea of Bees, and she does a fine line in homespun whimsy. Her voice is a thing of rare beauty -- flitting at will from the fragility of Stina Nordenstam to the more obviously commercial country of Kathleen Edwards. And it's wrapped in a sweetly textured sonic backdrop that allows the vocals to shine.
Love, both requited and not, is the prevailing theme and every so often Baenzinger's sincerity tugs on the heart strings. Wizbot is a song of wide-eyed-wonder as she sings of how a girlfriend's rosy cheeks made her feel "like a little girl inside". It's a tender moment, and this gentle album is not short of them. Despite its many attributes, a handful of tracks seem fragmentary, half-baked. And the lack of light and shade becomes quite apparent mid-way through. Still, there's enough here to suggest Sea of Bees may yet soar high.
Burn it: Wizbot; Gnomes
Day & Night