In today’s burgeoning indie folk scene, artists must endlessly struggle to keep their heads up if they want to make any kind of dent in the eyes of the music listening public. A good place to start is authenticity. Aly Spaltro (alias Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. I don’t know what it means, figure it out yourself!) has that part down pat. Her story stands as the polar opposite of the Bon Iver-style broken hearted Neo-Walden mountain man myth. Instead of exiling herself to a harsh cabin life, Spaltro put her music to tape after hours in the video rental store where she was employed working eight hours a day, seven days a week. She would play and experiment until the sun rose, then, presumably, go home and sleep until it was time to loan out DVD’s again. Sure, it’s kind of melodramatic self-punishment just like
Vernon’s tale, but it’s
more populist. In the public imagination, anyone behind a cash register (yes,
even you) could be Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. That’s the genius of Spaltro’s
All of that, the branding and mythos, becomes irrelevant, though, when her usually sweet and well tuned voice frays and falls tattered through screams of, “Your blue eyes lie just like an atlas in those sockets.” It’s a sound so frustratingly elusive. Emotion is the word, I think. Spaltro just put out her first real full-length, The Ripely Pine, on Bada Bing Records, lifting her finally from the drudges of exclusively local fame. Local here means the town of
Maine (though she’s recently relocated to Brooklyn). Something about the music definitely screams
New England, but not in the literal “we’re screaming about New
England” Vampire Weekend sense. Consider Spaltro’s music the
rickshaw to Tune-Yards’ cape-faring motorboat.
But all this dusty folksy talk may be giving you the wrong impression. There’s a lot going on in The Ripely Pine. For every swooning acoustic ballad you’ve got a track that’s challenging and looping. Many of these songs have been in the works for quite some time, having appeared before on smaller-scale self-released demos and projects, and you can feel when she’s got a track that’s been sharpened to exactly where she wants it. For the most part, the best cuts are the most aggressive. “Bird Balloons” and “Mezzanine” sport a Neil Young-esque crunch with deep, cut-and-bang riffs that taunt you and taunt you before disappearing when you least expect it. When she’s angry, she’s more Post-Punk than Nick Drake, moving from section to section without warning and changing keys when they don’t want to be changed, and when she wants to write a perfect pop-song, she can do it – see the brass-touched, swinging “Aubergine.” Beyond excellent.
So, I urge you, look in to this record. Take it out on a lake, preferably while you’re fishing. Songcraft, popcraft, wordcraft, and personality – Aly Spaltro has it all. Oh, and did I mention jam-jars full of talent? Damn me if in two years Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is not a household name.