Under the moniker of Lady Lamb, 25-year-old Aly Spaltro continues to reveal the scope of her heart, and it’s exciting to watch as she develops further into the musician she wants to be.
Precocious, Spaltro penned most of the songs in her emotionally wise debut album, Ripely Pine (2013), at the ripe age of nineteen. She sings her stark and honest lyrics emphatically—from the spellbindingly dreamy to bitingly screamy. Between lost love, betrayal, and nostalgia, her songs capture a pure, glacier-water-like essence of a young person’s credulous and perilous longings.
In the years since Spaltro constructed Ripely Pine, a maturation of both the personal and musical persuasion has occurred, and it comes through thematically in Lady Lamb’s latest album, After.
“I wasn’t trying to be necessarily different from Ripely Pine, but it was a natural progression. I have grown up a bit since I wrote those songs, and have undergone some natural growth… At the time, I thought [Ripely Pine] was about me, but it was more about what I expected from others. After talks about my life and family, my friends, my fears,” Spaltro said. “It’s a type of vulnerability that is different from the last, semantically.”
The album’s opening track, “Vena Cava,” references the song “Aubergine” from Ripely Pine, declaring “There ain't no aubergine in my blood.” This mention, a song about a blue-eyed love that was just out of reach, seems to be saying that while Spaltro recognizes her past is a vital part of who she is, she’s also ready to advance the plot.
After: the title. After Ripley Pine? Afterlife? After confronting the emotional demons that tried to take her to the cleaners? The title of Spaltro’s latest was born from a culmination of impulsive inspiration and unconscious motives. It was the first word that she wrote down when brainstorming a title, and the one that she returned to for its broad and open ended meaning.
“My songs always start as words or phrases and I trim them together like a puzzle. Sometimes I’m shocked at how well they fit,” Spaltro said.
Her lyrics mirror that mentality as she shifts her source of creativity. With a transcendent style of writing, and themes examining the connectedness of humanity, she takes an almost Carl Sagan-esque worldview— “we are filled with the gore from long before.” She finds tremendous beauty and abstraction in tiny moments, like when observing a woman yawning on train, she realizes “how strange we all are, animal hearts pumping that animal blood.”
This tendency toward existential thought is an intrinsic part of Spaltro.
“I remember being 5 years old and racking my brain about where we were in the universe and what it all meant,” Spaltro said. “I would be sitting and thinking to myself, and thought patterns would spiral into something much deeper, and I wanted this album to be what I was thinking about a lot lately.”
While lyrically, After attests to Spaltro’s emotional growth, sonically, the album showcases her growth as a musician. Ripely Pine had longer songs, and dwelled in the realm of suspenseful and dramatic; rarely repeating choruses, confident and genuine, but charmingly messy. After stacks up musical parts that generate a soundscape brimming on the edges of sharp and ethereal, while still maintaining her unique and emotive tone. Smoother tempo changes, catchy hooks, and orchestral fade-outs are all a part of the journey.
“I try to write music that helps elevate the wording… I think this time I was trying to make an album that was more direct and tight, more formulaic, with more choruses,” she explained.
Agency is important to Spaltro. She's careful to allow outsiders—producers, record label executives, even her fans—pull her in a direction in which she might feel uncomfortable.
“It’s a life lesson that I’ve learned to keep my integrity and to not feel pressured to say yes,” she said. “There’s a lot of power in saying no to things, and to always feel secure with what you’re doing, no matter what you’re doing, because when you share it with others, they will get that without saying ‘oh that’s pretentious’ or ‘she’s playing to what we want to hear.’ There’s no room for that when you’re creating from a very earnest place.”
Listeners can surely sense her sincerity in her songs, and her small-but-growing fan base seems to relate to her on a deep level. “When I see people excited and singing along, they are so happy, and it makes me feel so full,” Spaltro said. “I’m very grateful and fortunate to do what I do, and the fans make it all worth while… I could not ask for anything more than what I’m doing, this is exactly what I want.”
Lady Lamb is currently touring with a 3-piece band, and unfortunately she has been suffering from an illness, and has had to cancel several previous shows. Hopefully she’ll be in tip-top shape by the time she reaches Ferndale. Catch her on May 8 at The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave, Ferndale. $10.