Lady Lamb the Beekeeper / Lady Lamb

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After Review

by Mark Deming

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (known to her parents as Aly Spaltro) sounds like the arty young woman you knew in college who would jam with her friends in the basement of a video store after hours and sell CD-R's of her songs in homemade packages on consignment at the local record shop. And seeing as all of that happens to come from Lady Lamb's biography, it stands to reason, but while there are hundreds of artists with similar résumés whose music is barely tolerated by their closest friends, Spaltro is that rarity, a semi-hippie artist-slash-musician with real talent and the will to do something with it. While there are plenty of drums and electric guitars at work on After, Lady Lamb's second proper album, the core of her sound is rooted in folk, and there's an unforced sunniness and sweet soulfulness in Spaltro's vocals and an elemental force in her melodies that sound like they could have come from a guitar pull around a bonfire. But Spaltro is also one folkie who gets what to do with electric instruments, and the massed vocals and distorted guitars on "Heretic," the funky drumming on "Spat Out Spit," and the full-on rock of "Vena Casa" shows that she has an eclectic pop sensibility that weaves itself in and out of her songs to impressive effect. While the production on After had just enough polish (and the accompanists have strong enough chops) to give this music a smooth veneer, Spaltro's songs sound alive and responsive throughout, and her vocals are strong and expressive without seeming at all affected. Lady Lamb is playful without being silly, serious without weighing down her music, and impressionistic without being oblique; she can express herself and make her music work in the studio without seeming pretentious or gazing into her navel. Add it all up, and After is a minor triumph that makes it clear Lady Lamb is going to be around for a while, and may give you new hope for those kids making arty noise in their basement down the block.

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