At first, it is easy to mistake Sui Zhen’s debut album Two Seas with that of Lisa Mitchell or Julia Stone. But looking closer it is only Sui’s achy vocals which lend to this. Originally from Sydney, Melbourne-based Sui’s debut album is quaint and summery. The starkly-thin texture of the opening track, My New Friend is a good indication of the next nine. Opening with a few tinkles from the piano, the song is a interaction between Sui’s sailing voice, a slightly strumming guitar and the occasional interjection of piano accordion – careful not to miss it! Whilst the whole album is somewhat whimsical and fluttery, there are subtle styles within the tracks. Golden Cage has a music-box quality with its use of the kitsch Q-chord (an 80s electronic substitute for guitar with chord buttons and a strum-plate) whilst Blue Night is almost a lullaby, rolling over you like a waves on a beach with its 6/8 feel and resonating cello.
A light exoticism weaves its way through Two Seas. In Little Frog, passing dissonant percussion imitates the sound of Indonesian Gamelan. Meanwhile, whispers of many instrumental timbres are heard throughout the entire album, such as trombone, trumpet, Chinese moon guitar, clarinet and cajón (a Peruvian percussion instrument). Gentle and delicate, Two Seas is a calm and understated album, a sweet alternative to typical folk sounds.