Sea of Bees, Bush Hall, London

4.00

Such is the interest in Sea of Bees that revered stars of the indie scene, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, are fans. The latter even listed California singer-songwriter Julie Ann Baenziger's debut album, Songs for the Ravens, as one of his top albums of last year.

It's no surprise. Baenziger boasts a voice that's mesmeric, vulnerable, sharing the childlike expression – if not the yelps – of Joanna Newsom, whose freak-folk scene the 26-year-old newcomer now inhabits, as well as reaching out to Americana. It's this startlingly emotive voice which led the producer of her album, John Baccigaluppi, who has worked with Devendra Banhart and Alela Diane, to take an interest after he spotted her playing alone in the studio.

Blending natural imagery and personal emotion, like Laura Veirs and Bon Iver before her, the album is much preoccupied by tales of love (unrequited), from the refreshing perspective of someone who's just discovering it. "The whole album was a whole year of my life plus an additional 15 years, caged," she tells the crowd, before performing "Gnomes", the album's opener, delicate and ethereal vocals joined by light strumming. The intriguing confession echoes earlier claims that the songs were written when she "was emerging from her chrysalis", imagery which refers both to her realising her teenage dream of becoming a musician (she is self-trained on the marimba, slide guitar, glockenspiel and in singing) but also discovering her sexuality. One of the album's songs, which she omits from tonight's short set, "Sidepain", is an ode to California's indie princess Jenny Lewis, with whom Baenziger was once a little bit in love.

She introduces "Strikefoot" as being about missing love's fleeting opportunity, and you feel the anguish of unrequited love in her performance. In the melodically rich single "Wizbot", she realises herself as a more delicate Cat Power.

Tonight the theme is romance. "You're romantic," she says, beaming innocently towards a couple near the front of the stage. Songs for the Ravens is a deeply personal album in the way that Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago was. Live, she is generous with her personal, if eccentric, stories, openly baring her soul and displaying the emotion that feeds through every carefully delivered vocal. She is a giving artist, and the rewards for the listener are great.

Tonight's pared-down performance has just Baenziger on guitar, and a backing vocalist/ guitarist. As such, it misses the textured instrumentation – the marimba, light percussion, and glockenspiel – of her finely crafted arrangements. It's in "Marmalade" where this is most felt. The song's haunting qualities dissipate without the texturing of her layered instrumentation.

But it's the song she performs entirely solo, with nothing but sparse finger-picked guitar, that shows her at her most mesmeric. On "The Woods", a track that does not feature on her album, her pure bird-like singing, meticulously controlled to the point that even the very highest notes are quiet and never strained, is deeply stirring. It's an unconventional emotive performance that cannot fail to reel in the audience, who are duly still and attentive.

She ends on a new, unreleased, song, "Tantrum". "No, I want more," wails its imploring chorus. Never has a tantrum sounded so sweet.

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat