All The Bees are the duo of Kirsty McGee and Gitka Partington, both of whom have achieved various levels of success on their own, writing songs for TV, participating in community projects as well as going through the regular release/tour cycles. However, it was during lockdown that their (virtual) paths crossed and they began to write songs together, eventually blossoming into the debut self-titled full-length.

Despite only meeting three times in real life, there’s an easy symbiosis between the pair, McGee’s airy, spacious flute a natural complement to Partington’s gentle and warm vocals. This is about as pastoral as folk can get, with every song reflecting on nature and cycles of life and death (two are specifically about crows). It manages to just about keep on the right side of insufferable new age hippy-dom, but you’re also unlikely any hard-hitting political commentary or shocking confessionals here.

Down to the River and Wild Flowers demonstrate the gorgeously peaceful arrangements that the duo excel in; the former with lovely cello lines intertwining with the flute and the latter with easygoing piano and some loose twangy guitar. Even if the lyrics occasionally read like a science class being taught by the art teacher (“what makes the wild flowers grow?”), or the crescendo ends up a little culty (“all hail king crow!”), there’s a joyful sincerity that you can’t help but admire.

Sometimes the songs are a little too ephemeral in their lightness (Dog Star, Dance Caught Dreaming), while closer Stone from the Ocean veers too close to a campfire sing-a-long. A stronger finish might have come with May Tide, a truly beguiling song that is a bit more obfuscating in its imagery and neofolky in delivery, with choice echoes adding a hint of darkness into what is a generally bright affair (see the album cover).

There’s a very specific mood throughout this album, one that is completely out of step with the grim state of the world at present, and all the better for it. We could all use a bit of time out in the country to stop and smell the roses, or contemplate the lives of crows, and All The Bees have created the ideal soundtrack for us.