by Michele Zipkin
If I had listened to Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s performance with my eyes closed, I never would have imagined that such a petite young lady could generate such raw, powerful vocals. Aly Spaltro, who plays under the above-mentioned moniker, has poise and musical sincerity beyond her years. The young artist taught herself guitar and embarked on the long and rigorous path of songwriting in the late night and early morning hours after her shifts at Bart and Greg’s DVD Explosion in Brunswick, Maine. Some of the songs she wrote came to comprise her first studio album, Ripely Pine.
In World Cafe’s intimate upstairs venue, Spaltro and the band kicked off the set with “Bird Balloons”, in which those abrasive electric guitar licks engulfed the room, and that quirky and image-heavy poetry permeated the air. When the song slowed to a vocally-exposed segment, Spaltro and Xenia Rubinos, who opened the evening of music, sang in crystal clear harmony. Coincidentally, the lyrics that they sang were “Our hearts they were revealed…”, which made it an emotionally-exposed section of the song.
Spaltro writes well-developed and untraditional songs that flow from one melodic and rhythmic thought to the next- sometimes in a gentle way, sometimes brash. After playing a couple tunes with the band including the crowd-pleasing “Aubergine”, Spaltro took the stage solo and played a few fairly introspective songs, one of which was the forlorn “Florence Berlin”. Her lyrics evoke such vivid imagery, such as these: “On my insides I am haggard, and on some insides there are vultures… if they begin to ravage your love, don’t cower, run for cover.” Then again, those melismatic “oohs” seemed to have communicated so much more than her words. She switched to the plunk of the banjo for “Regarding Ascending the Stairs”, which took on an Americana/folk vibe, undoubtedly, in stark contrast to a lot of her other material.
One of the more grandiose and powerful songs was “You are the Apple”. It started out with a fast-strumming guitar groove, but then quickly progressed to more of a rhythmically-relaxed environment, which sported a pretty bluesy melody in the guitar. It again traveled into a different melodic and rhythmic dimension, which included those epic quarter note guitar, bass and drum hits on the beat, supporting the title lyrics.
The songs didn’t seem to suffer without some of the instrumentation or arrangements found on Spaltro’s album. The only thing that was a bit of a disappointment was the absence of the chorus singing “Lay me down, lay me low, let go your crown, disarm me…” in the vocal breakdown of “The Nothing Part II”. However, Rubinos pulled some of the weight by providing some lovely accompanimental singing.
Spaltro played and sang with passion, getting lost in the stories she told through her songs. Despite the fact that she was on the brink of losing her voice, and even requested some honey from the bar, she still belted out melody lines that reached the back of the room and then some.