January 30, 2013

CD Review: Attitude, style make 'Ripley Pine' a keeper for indie-rocker Spaltro

Each song is crafted and spun in its own distinguished web of counter-pop ethos.


Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (aka Aly Spaltro) is the quintessential indie-rock goddess. If you take a listen to her debut album, "Ripley Pine," you get the feeling she's got this stuff down.

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-- Based on a four-star scale

In Liz Phair fashion, she sings with a devil-may-care attitude at times -- not trying to get all the notes exactly right, but instead leading with heart and emotion. It gives off an air of unintentional confidence while surrendering to the nonconformist style of songwriting. If the typical verse-chorus-verse structure is in any of her songs, it is cleverly disguised.

"Hair to the Ferris Wheel" opens the CD with a lovely soft vibe and a sweet vocal that begs us to come a little closer and listen: "Love is selfish/ Love goes tick-tock, tick-tock, tick/ Love knows Jesus/ Apples and oranges."

The song then breaks into a frenetic energy out of the blue: Drums pounding, guitar galloping and Spaltro's voice changing into a fervent pitch. The tempo slows down again and emphasizes the above lyric before finishing with a reflective spirit and palatable vulnerability.

"Aubergine" stretches Spaltro's vocal reaches. The relatively short song quickly adds building layers of soft horns and loops into staccato beats that quickly give out again to the voice. This set-up plays on through the song like a tide going in and out. The song ends abruptly, making listeners wonder if they should wait for the rising wave to come splashing again, or reflect in the calm.

Because each song is crafted and spun in its own distinguished web of counter-pop ethos, it is difficult not to comment on each one. The sum of its parts is a rambling heart that heeds no boundaries, but cements to a force unknown.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper will keep listeners on their feet, and this CD is worth a listen, if only for the pure raw energy that Spaltro exudes in her guitar playing and voice.

But there is much more to the album, and if you truly lend an ear, you will find a treasure chest of experimentation, touching verse and rolling, rugged gentleness.

Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a freelance writer.


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