More than anything, Aly Spaltro has 20,000 second-hand DVDs to thank for her first album. Despite being recorded at a proper studio in her recently adopted home of Brooklyn, Ripely Pine showcases songs conceived during her tenure at Bart’s & Greg’s DVD Explosion in Brunswick, Maine. Little did customers know, the same store they’d drop off their Transformers movies was providing the ideal four-year cocoon for the development of a major musical talent.
Aly worked the 3pm-11pm shift. Each night, after locking up, she’d walk past Drama and Horror, pull out her music gear from behind a wall of movies, and write and record songs until morning broke. She did this every day, drawing strength from the monotony of her routine.
During those nightly creative spells, Spaltro tested out multiple techniques, approaches and instrumentation. She brought whatever state she was in that day to the music, which served as raw expressions of her lyrical thoughts. Anger, confusion, love, happiness, and sadness reigned, and the songs ran rampant, with little form or structure. Isolated for those many hours, Aly let melodies morph together, break apart, and pair up. This is how she taught herself to write music and sing.
Spaltro chose to give herself a band name, because she had only two outlets for giving out her music; Bart’s & Greg’s, and a record store next door, the beloved independent Bull Moose. She arranged her CDs on the counters as free offerings, and seeing how she was often the employee at the register, didn’t tell people it was her music.
That’s how Lady Lamb the Beekeeper became one of the most beloved performers in Portland. Her live shows were unhinged, as melodies followed an internal logic only apparent to Spaltro herself. She sang and played guitar, and the songs offered a vivid yet brief snapshot into her expansive world. Their full glory remained in her head for reasons of access and cost. And anyway, who the hell would be able to play along with her, seeing how they followed no formal logic? Thus, she developed as a solo performer, careening from hums to screams within seconds, but always maintaining self-control.
At 23, with five years of taking music seriously under her belt, when she ventured to the next milestone—recording an album. This would be the first time she did so in a professional studio (not just her and her 8-track) and the first time she shared the process with anyone else. Luckily, she met Nadim Issa at Let ‘Em Music in Brooklyn. He was taken enough by her abilities to dedicate nine full months towards the recording of Ripely Pine, and she with his producing abilities to ease comfortably into making him a part of her recording process. She wrote everything. All the songs, all the arrangements. And the two of them assembled an album that finally fit what existed in Spaltro’s mind. Keeping the songs’ stark rawness, the record is a pure representation of her sound.
Ripely Pine shouts the introduction of a new talent from every groove. Here, finally, are recordings of Lady Lamb that come as close as possible to conveying the intense majestry of her live shows. And, much like her performances live, a narrative breathes through the record’s progression. The album opens with urgency and anger, settles into reconciliation and reciprocation, and ultimately reaches towards resolution, realizing infatuation leads to a loss of self; instead, embracing one’s own strengths is the most powerful thing of all.
No surprise that Spaltro ultimately sings a mantra of individuality. A listen to Ripely Pine proves she has a lot to say for herself and certainly doesn’t need anybody’s help to do it.
Collaborating with Issa kind of ruled, though. And it’s going to be next to purely awesome seeing her play with a full band.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. You. Here. First.