Singer Jules Baenziger is the compelling focal point of Sea of Bees' debut LP

Julie Ann Baenziger has a voice that confounds comparison. In a business always trolling for the next so-and-so, Baenziger (known as Jules) simply sounds like herself: she’s capable of singing with swooping authority and with supple subtlety, in tones that are clear in the middle and a little fuzzy around the edges.

Her vocals are the riveting centerpiece of “Songs for the Ravens” (Crossbill Records), the debut LP by her band Sea of Bees. With a dozen well-crafted indie-rock songs covering moods from downhearted to ebullient, the album is also a persuasive display of Baenziger’s songwriting ability.

She and her band crank up the guitars on “Marmalade,” a sleek, dark song with a heavy rhythm that turns Baenziger’s airy voice into something more foreboding. Dense, gluey guitar anchors “Skinnybone,” and the affectionate longing in her voice floats above booming dry drums augmented about halfway through with the steady thrum of an organ and chiming notes from what sounds like a toy piano.

Baenziger sounds resigned in the layers of harmonies she sings on the acoustic “Wizbot.” She’s a little truculent as she ruefully pines for an ex- (and maybe future-?) lover on the rootsy rocker “Sidepain.” Through it all, though, she sounds ever like Jules, a woman with the heart of a poet and a voice like nothing else around.

— Eric R. Danton

Marmalade mp3

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