[M]aine native Aly Spaltro’s latest release as her alter-ego Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is titled Ripely Pine (out on Ba Da Bing Records) and it is a knock-out album from start to finish. Encompassing the energy of her live shows into a recorded offering might have been a daunting task, but it seems to have been handled deftly. You would expect this if you’ve been following Spaltro’s rise from the Portland, ME music scene in 2007, to being awarded Folk Artist of the Year by the Boston Music Awards in 2010.
Ripely Pine starts off with “Hair to the Ferris Wheel” as Spaltro sings softly, with cloying sweetness, “Take me by the waist to the water/Take me by the hair to the ferris wheel/Take me by the wrist to the river,” and just as you fall into her spell the guitars kick in and put you back in your place. “Love is selfish/Love goes tic-toc” she sings out, reminding us who is in charge.
This is an album about identity and how an artist’s individuality can be perceived by curious onlookers. The horns that call out to “Aubergine” throughout the album’s second track, as she sits on the bed with her atlas blue eyes and the heart that won’t show it’s face, are as much a part of the description of the song’s protagonist as the colorful lyrics are, helping to paint a perfect picture of awkward longing. Something we can all relate to I’m sure.
Spaltro has a voice that can lull you into a false sense of security before she opens up her lungs and belts out with a fierceness not usually on display in the folk-rock circuit. This is what makes her music all the more unique. She is not creating a sound that can be easily placed into any single category, yet it can be embraced by fans whose love of music spans across all genres. For instance, the ass-kicking, rock n’ roller “Bird Balloons” is a shout out tale of personal and emotional acceptance which ends in a furious whiplash of guitars and drums that would make heavy metal enthusiasts happy.
That’s not to say that the sweet sounds of the banjo have been left out in the cold on Ripely Pine, but this is a folk-rock album built around a voice and a vision rather than just the tools of the trade. Powerful guitars, pounding pianos, and kick-slap drums flow through the songs here, and tracks like the frantic “Mezzanine,” and the hip-twisting “Crane Your Neck,” benefit from a slew of instruments working together in glorious fashion. The standout track “The Nothing Part II” even incorporates a chorus of voices and hand-claps into the mix, making it a perfect audience participation song.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has done Aly Spaltro proud. From her humble start behind the counter of a small record shop, to the open road that led to sold-out venues and large festivals, it seems like the Beekeeper’s story is really just beginning…and her fans can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Check out the fantastic track “Bird Balloons” above and add Ripely Pine to your collection by visiting iTunes today.
Record Release Tour Dates:
Friday, Feb. 22nd – TT the Bear’s Place – Cambridge, MA
Saturday, Feb. 23rd – Knitting Factory – Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, Mar. 2nd – Space Gallery – Portland, ME