The story of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper began about five years ago at a DVD rental shop in Brunswick, Maine (That does sound a bit like the opening line of a postmodern fairy tale, doesn’t it?) Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is Aly Spaltro, who recently re-located to Brooklyn to record her debut album, which was half a decade in the making. However, she tells me that she’s just fine with the timeline of the album: “I don’t regret waiting five years to make my first studio album. The timing of it couldn’t have been better. Going into the studio was a completely new experience.”
Spaltro initially began writing and recording in the aisles of Bart’s & Greg’s DVD Explosion. She closed the shop each night and proceeded to write and record songs on her 8-track, all on her lonesome. Her process was spontaneous and instantaneous: “I was wanting to write and record a song and finish it on the spot. Most of the songs were written and recorded within two hours. I never spent more than a day on it.” However, after nearly five years, she was more than happy to have a studio to record in. She was also more than happy to be sharing the experience for the first time. She worked with Nadim Issa, whom she met at Let ‘Em Music in Brooklyn, who engineered, produced, and mixed her debut, Ripley Pine. Although the majority of the songs on Ripley Pine aren’t new, Spaltro tells me that the process of professionally recording them gave her a newfound appreciation for this work that she had done.
“It took a year to record this and I found a new love for the songs. I mean, they’re not new, so it was a way to reacquaint myself with them. It made me feel like the songs were brand new. I feel like with my whole heart that each recording is what it wants to be.”
Spaltro also tells me that the transition from Maine to NYC went a lot more smoothly than she expected.
“I love it. I fell in love with New York faster than I thought I would. After a month or so I felt really adjusted. It’s so conducive to what I want to do. I hope to be here quite a while.”
There’s only one kink that she’s still yet to work out: “I don’t have a practice space, which I need to get soon, so I can be loud again.” For the time being, she’s limited to writing and practicing in her apartment with a modestly noisy acoustic guitar.
The songs found on Ripley Pine are everything that good indie pop should be. They are whimsically long-winded and poetically profound in the manner of the most satisfying folk music, and then they explode at exactly the right time… about a minute after you’ve stopped wondering if they’re going to explode at all… and then they take you back to that simple, existential bedroom musing that convinced you of her artistic brilliance… And then there are those that begin as a playful romp and bitch-slap you with philosophical wisdom just as your mind set itself up for a backyard dance party. She’s quiet when she would be best quiet and loud when she would be best loud. She’s fun to sing-along to, but she could also get you through some of those times when your heart weights heaviest.
“I am most inspired by nostalgic things… Thinking about past loves and unrequited loves. The title, Ripley Pine, recalls longing for something really passionately, like a ripe fruit. That’s how I imagine the heart when it’s really longing for a certain love… pining for a past love or an unrequited love. That is what most inspired the album.”
I’m not sure that there’s one place where Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s shine would be brightest. She’s as good a “singer/songwriter” as exists in 2013. She would seem to have some kind of appeal to those with both popular and pretentious tastes… fans of both Florence and the Machine and Townes Van Zandt. At her core is a folk aesthetic, but a folk aesthetic that easily lets itself get whisked away into epic theatre, sunshine balladry, and frantic, un-orchestrated bursts of soulful passion… I would honestly be surprised if, by the year’s end, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper was not a household name… at the very least, among the indie masses.
Ripley Pine is due February 19th on Ba Da Bing! However, she will find herself in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection on Friday, February 8th, at Johnny Brenda’s, supporting Frontier Ruckus. Although Spaltro is going to be playing with a band for her album release shows, her Philly appearance will have her embracing her original performance aesthetic: “It’s gonna be me solo. I still consider it to be a very energetic, interesting show. It’s the way I’ve been playing for years and how people have gotten to know me.” However, if you’re interested in experiencing her more complex live show, she tells me of 2013, “I would love to be touring a ton and that’s what’s in the works,” so we’ll likely see her again by the year’s end.