album reviews

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
Ripely Pine
Ba Da Bing (2013)

Kindred spirits: Sharon Van Etten, Shannon Wright, Joanna Newsom.

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Aly Spaltro has been writing and recording music in Maine as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper since 2007, but her latest album, "Ripely Pine", is her first recorded in a proper studio. The addition of accompanying musicians certainly helps to flesh out the sparse sound of her early home recordings, but "Ripely Pine" maintains a charming rawness despite her newfound studio polish.

Most remarkable are the album's longer songs. The six-minute "Bird Balloons" is a fiery rocker that captivatingly conveys the memories of a tumultuous relationship. The song's arrangement and Spaltro's vocals mirror the narrative, alternating between sweet and feisty as she recalls tender memories and the heartbreak of betrayal. To close the song, Spaltro coughs out an angry "ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha" that captures her last laugh in the relationship. "Crane Your Neck" begins with simple vocals and guitar but intensifies halfway through with a wailing howl and the energy of a drum beat.

The songs that don't capture that emotional journey aren't quite as memorable. "Florence Berlin" is a sweet folk song whose sparse repetitiveness grows tedious.

But more often than not, Spaltro lets loose, her energy matching the horn accents on "Aubergine" and her layered vocals on "Little Brother" creating a deeply hypnotic effect.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 16 May 2013.
.: Ripely Pine on