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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
 
 

Sea of Bees, Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, James Walbourne
The Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush, London, February 9th 2011

The whole world and his wife, or at least the UK folk-loving indie part of it, seem to have fallen head over heels in love with Ms Sea of Bees, alias Julia Ann Baenziger , aka Jules.  Her new album, Songs for the Ravens, has won considerable critical acclaim, and her UK gigs are garnering a list of four and five-star reviews. 

Sea of bees

But to be honest we’re only here by accident.  The Photographer’s octogenarian neighbour Bob (who is the only person I know who visits Putney Vale Cemetery to chew the fat with Sandy Denny), is a very lively and interested student of the contemporary folk and Americana scene, and had booked tickets for this Heavenly Recordings showcase at the lovely Bush Hall, which were going to waste.  Last time I was here I was on the stage (that, as they say, is another story), tonight I’m late (again), hot foot from Auld Reekie, hungry, sans notebook, and in all honesty not perhaps best disposed for a gig.

Trevor Moss Hanah-Lou

Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou

We’ve also missed opener James Walbourne, but get to see the whole set from the charming Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, who are from Pinner, Peckham, or was it Perivale? They sing and play very closely, with some nice (and a couple of very good) songs drawn from the observations of mundane everyday life in Pinner, Peckham, or maybe Perivale, where I was surprised to learn that  in addition to allotments and rag-and-bone men, there are ‘sidewalks’ and ‘hustlers’.  I remain to be convinced that Trevor’s faux falsetto really worked alongside Hannah’s fuller voice, but as I said, I was not best disposed.

Sea of Bees is Jules, backed by vocalist and guitarist Amber.  Her appearance is greeted with whoops, hollers and cries from a gaggle of North American fans and possible friends.  She is, after all, from California, with a ragamuffin k d Lang appearance (Bob Dylan cap and all). It’s not hard to see why she has earned such good reviews. Incredibly intense and personal songs, drawn from an apparent lifetime of experiences (friends and lovers come and go like the H11 bus to Pinner) that seem to belie her tender years, and a powerful and captivating voice (it did remind me just a little of Melanie, but that’s me showing my age); at once painfully juvenile yet powerfully resonant. Guitar arrangements pleasingly simple, but featuring some nice minimalist Telecaster flourishes from Ms Amber.

Sea of Bees

Less captivating is the giggly and gauche dialogue with the audience, and the rather affected gestures (right arm raised to the heavens, with eyes following on in a transcendental stare) which are repeated a little too often.  She also, for the record, likes lashings of cider, and whisky, and insists on trying out her very weak Dick van Dyke “Hello Mary Poppins” accent.  For all that she clearly has great presence, and promises to be the real thing, once some of the naïveté wears off.

We left early.  I was starving, and headed home for some of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire and a glass or two of some of Scotland’s midnight wine after a unexpectedly cheesy night.  And I should apologise Serge, because I know how much you don’t like cheese. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)

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