Julie Bee, AKA Sea of Bees, is someone who I’ve been following for a while. I’ve reviewed her previous releases for another blog that I write, and this has given me the opportunity to witness the evolution of an artist. Her previous album, “Songs for the Ravens,” was kind of a folk album, featuring lots acoustic guitar, with a little bit of freak-folk in the mix (especially in the opening track, “Gnomes”). After that album, she released an EP for the song “Gnomes,” Which featured two very freak-folk tracks, as well as two straight pop tracks, and I remember wondering if this was the sign of a new for her, or if the pop tracks were just for fun.
On “Orangefarben,” Sea of Bees has shifted pretty firmly to the pop side of the spectrum. Sure, she still hangs on to some of her folk and country roots on a few tracks, such as on “Gone,” and on her cover of John Denver‘s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” renaming it to just simply “Leaving.” However, the other tracks have a sort of twee-pop-meets-folk-inspired-rock sound that is really hard to pin down to just one descriptive term, so I won’t try. It’s complex, yet minimalist at times.
Part of the complexity of the album comes from the fact that it’s a concept album. Here’s something about me: I’m a sucker for concept albums. Even bad concept albums pique my interest…there’s something about exploring a concept or trying to tell a story over the course of an entire album. “Orangefarben”‘ is an excellent concept album, telling the story of Julie Bee’s recent split with her first girlfriend. However, instead of wallowing in despair, this album celebrates the narrator’s growth as a person and the realization that, though the relationship is over, Julie has learned a lot about herself and is stronger for it.
Overall, “Orangefarben” is a bitter-sweet pop album that manages to be very personal without being uncomfortably so, and is a great example of a work by an artist who is just coming into her own.