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.

Songs for the Ravens provides a wonderful progression from earlier works, following on from such high standards with something that is impressive on all levels. Each track on the album presents something different, from the electronic base of 'Willis' to the guitar led 'Marmalade', providing a showcase for the talent and range that one woman holds. In spite of this, the album still feels like a cohesive collection, rather than a mess of songs. This is due to two key factors: Baenzinger's vocals and lyrical power.

Throughout the album, her ethereal, warm, often high pitch vocals shine through, creating a focal point regardless of style or intensity. The opening track, 'Gnomes', showcases her vocal talent as an anguished cry is followed by a childlike, almost ethereal sound. Yet this is not the only string to her vocal bow. Yes, some tracks, such as the sombre final track 'Blind', demonstrate the delicate, ethereal nature of her voice, but it is those that illustrate something different that are the real treats on this album. Of course, it is lovely to hear Baenzinger produce such unique and powerful sounds through her own brand of innocent high notes, but tracks such as the sure-to-be-single 'Sidepain' show that she is a lot more than this. That she can produce something easily accessible alongside the more experimental or niche song. The vocals are still clearly identifiable as a Sea of Bees track, however, but could be seen as the perfect indie folk song, ideal for the radio.

The lyrical power of the album is something of a strong point of Baenzinger. Her lyrics have always been heartbreaking and uplifting, juxtaposing light guitar chords for rather dark lyrics. And here is no exception. "You're the sweetest pain in my side" and "You said that you loved me but that doesn't matter anymore" demonstrate an honest and pain that very few songwriters can pull off. It gives an insight into the girl behind the music. That music is an extension of her personality, rather than a mask. Even her love of bicycles, as detailed in her guest article ( here), is present in the beautifully crafted 'Skinbone'. It truly feels like she has put her heart and soul into the album, and feels all the better for it. There is no sense of pretension or fakery in lyrical content, or anything else for that matter. Effortless yet considered.

Sea of Bees must also, of course, be commended musically. Each track feels natural, like it could have taken no time at all to create and perfect each element. A sense of confident isolation comes through each track, to the benefit of the self reflecting lyrics, which is only possible through a one woman project. Each instrument, each layered vocal, is delivered by Baenzinger herself. To generate something so crafted and effortless alone is no mean feat. And the variation of styles, from the 60s inspired 'Fyre' to the guitar laden 'Marmalade', show just how accomplished this outfit really is.

Songs For The Ravens is everything you could have wanted from a full length Sea of Bees release, and more. Cliche? Perhaps. But it provides the substance to back up these claims. It is complex, yet sweet. It is full of charm and honest. The tracks work well together, but equally lovely alone. It would be hard not to shine to this record, and the artist behind it, as it bares its soul for all to see.

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