Rich, deep, and flowing, “Marmalade” has the rumble of some muddy, alt-rock classic, complete with rubbed-out vocals and a battery of guitar sounds, from fuzzy-growly to acoustic-strummy to lonesome-seering. For all the ground-level noise and minor-key darkness, however, the song lifts and soars most wonderfully. It’s an intriguing effect.
Julie Ann Bee’s voice is central to “Marmalade”‘s appeal. Even as she buries the brighter and quirkier aspects of her singing under the song’s portentous textures, she doesn’t give in to cliched howling–an impressive feat especially as the song features plenty of wordless “oh-oh”-ing, which lord knows could’ve been howled. Instead she plays to a dusky quality in her voice that you almost don’t hear here but in almost not hearing it’s all the more engaging. I think. Meanwhile, listen to how the various guitars combine into an almost orchestral unity of purpose. Not a sound is wasted; propelled by a swift, unstinting rhythm and its plaintive minor key, the song is a fast, involving ride, ending, each time I listen, before I quite expect it.
“Marmalade” is from Sea of Bees’ debut full-length CD, Songs For The Ravens, released last month on Crossbill Records. Sea of Bees is a musical project masterminded and performed by the Sacramento-based Bee (nee Baenzinger), with an assist from producer John Baccigaluppi and a few guests.