It’s rare to find a venue as charming and yet obscure as The Old Boot Factory. With Academy venues filling up cities and somehow soaking up the sound, it’s refreshing to find somewhere as vibrant and tonight Sea of Bees gel with the surroundings. The band are the creation of Julie Ann Baenziger and they bring with them a plethora of warm tones to an otherwise barren space.
Her voice cruises through notes, with a drawling style and little diction. Though she hails from the West Coast, there’s something about her voice which fuses Julia Stone with Cerys Matthews, bringing with it the innocence of the former and the distinctiveness of the latter, moulding it into something which is equally unique. Combine this with a fusion of instruments and songs of love and loss and it’s the perfect antidote to a cold grey day.
Jules has the ability to fill a room, despite her somewhat bashful nature and though she talks frequently it’s the weight of her songs which carry the power. Gone from the most recent album Orangefarben is a heartfelt ode to friendships lost, whilst Wizbot from debut Songs For The Ravens is more atmospheric building and swelling with joint vocals from band member Amber. It’s clear that Jules isn’t afraid to mix things up, varying from the album tracks to bring the songs to life in the live dimension. Opener Skinnybone is given a more delicate approach, eloquently setting the scene for what is to become a more serene evening.
It’s the kind of music which has multiple qualities; on the one hand an easy listening vibe which allows your mind to wander in the melodies, and on the other a requirement for deep concentration in order to fully engage with the music. The set, whilst diverse is soothing and wholesome, culminating in an indie-folk sound, which draws you in from the start. Whilst there are moments where I find myself drifting, unable to differentiate the lyrics through the layers of sound, for the most part I become transfixed, drawn in by the character of Jules’ voice and the range of harmonies from the band.