Jules Baenziger, a.k.a. Sea of Bees, has done a lot of living since releasing her first album, "Songs for the Ravens," two years ago.
Intensive touring behind "Ravens" named one of 2010's best by NPR's Robin Hilton and Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy, among others led Baenziger to New York and the United Kingdom.
It also separated her from her first real girlfriend, back in Sacramento. The pair eventually broke up.
Sea of Bees' new album "Orangefarben," out Tuesday, reflects changes in Baenziger's life. Her bright melodic sensibilities still shine, but the unrequited love and naiveté that fueled the songwriting on "Ravens" have been replaced by experience.
On "Orangefarben," Baenziger is more cautious and questioning.
On the album's lead track "Broke," she keeps proclaiming, in her distinctive, edge-of-heartbreak soprano, that "I'll be fine." It sounds like a reminder to herself.
Now on a U.K. and European tour, Sea of Bees will return to Sacramento in June for four dates, including June 8 and 9 shows at Luigi's Fungarden with another local favorite, Sister Crayon.
We caught up with Baenziger, 27, as heart-on-her-sleeve open in interviews as she is on record, by telephone backstage before a recent gig in Brighton, England.
It's kind of a nickname for my first love. We went to the (Sacramento) Co-op for our first little walk. It was about to close, so we just got an apple and an orange. I had the apple, and she had the orange. We were walking down 30th Street. She was learning German at the time, and I called her "Orangefarben."
The album is orangefarben. All the good times, all the hard times. I couldn't shake her. That's how it came about. It was therapeutic.
On "Orangefarben," you sound like you might have regrets. Do you?
On tour, you are living a whole year before anybody you are living a whole year in two months. You grow up pretty fast. I was thinking a lot about my relationship. What can I do? Why are some things never said? And how are you going to deal with things in a healthy way? I wanted to deal with them (through songwriting) because the people I know who have great lives are healthy in the way they deal with things in their past. I couldn't pretend that I could just move forward and not look back.
How would you describe your sound on the new record as contrasted with "Songs for the Ravens"?
It is not so whimsical. The last album was very free and spacious. This one is very tight in that sense. And it is extremely honest.
The new album is on the Team Love label co-founded by Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and his business manager, Nate Krenkel. Jenny Lewis, for whom you have expressed great appreciation in the past, also has recorded for them. That is some very talented company. How do you feel about being on that label?
They love music, they love art. Yes, one of (Lewis') albums is on Team Love, the one with the (Watson) twins, and it's really great. My first love really loved Bright Eyes, and I would listen and always just think, "Someday we are going to be friends I just know it." Not to sound like I was (bragging). (But) if our minds focus on something, maybe it can happen. (laughs). And in a weird way, it is.
You are teaming with Sister Crayon for a couple of dates in June. How did that come about?
They actually have been really good friends for a long time. Terra (Lopez, Sister Crayon's lead singer) has been the sweetest inspiration. She is so kind. She is constant and passionate about music, and she cares about people.
What's it like to be back performing at Luigi's after touring overseas?
It feels really good, because this is home, and now I really know what it means. You just really appreciate Sacramento more. It has a pace. It is not fast, and it is not always going. It feels great to be home, even if it's just for four days, and I can drink coffee at Old Soul.
SEA OF BEES
The singer-songwriter's second full-length album, "Orange- farben" (Team Love) comes out Tuesday in stores, and already is available on iTunes. She will play four shows in Sacramento in June, including dates with Sister Crayon and Andy Cabic of Vetiver. For information, see www.seaofbees.com.