Staying up til morning to record her first self-released albums, Aly Spaltro, better known as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, writes songs that are clearly influenced by the night time. With her emotional lyrics and singing and gentle guitar playing, she has filled After with haunting songs that will stay with you. Even after it’s over.
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Here in Lady Lamb the Beekeeper quits her day job (and in doing so loses her access to honey) and becomes nothing but Lady Lamb. It’s the same Aly Spaltro as ever, though, and her tunes prove to be in keeping with her signature: based in indie rock with a penchant for sparsity, they occasionally get wickedly loud or overwhelmingly dramatic. ‘After’ is a masterful rendition of a measured songwriter.
Spaltro is an occasional genre maverick, but she’s also an assured storyteller, and ‘After’ is sterling proof of both. “Billions of Eyes” is a wonderful juxtaposition of Spaltro being totally aghast at herself and the world (“How am I supposed to connect to anything?”, she asks as she sings her way through the city) while fighting off the anxiety with the a jaunty, joyous tune. Its major key shines as synths burst in like noses being blown over a marching beat. Moments after this nervous rock song, she throws into “Violet Clementine”, an unlit folk song with hints of radio rock that resolves on a pantomimic vocal exchange, before moving into “Heretic”, whose fiery guitar sounds shot out of whatever era of indie rock the Fratellis existed in. This is no slight; she’s better at sounding snarky.
While Spaltro’s songs are direct and follow straight lines, her lyrics feel less Radio 6, pursuing cul de sacs half way through their delivery: “Penny Licks” glides through stringent guitar but has resonant non-sequiturs like “We will crane our necks / we do not want to start a family”. I don’t know what it means, but I sure do like the way ambiguity sounds.
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