Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is the moniker for songwriter Aly Spaltro, whose debut full-length Ripley Pine inspires me. Essentially, it’s the fulfillment of the American dream: if you work hard and believe in yourself anything is possible. It might not be surprising if you haven’t heard of her yet, because she’s been holed up in the hours after her video store day job, creating a new album—a follow up to a string of small releases. But that’s all about to change, because now that Ripley Pine has been unleashed, it’s time to take note.Usually, when one is told that a video store clerk self-recorded an album, the result is some expectedly quiet folk songs, but Ripley Pine is an outstanding and adventurous album full of electric folk songs and upbeat indie-pop tunes.
On Ripley Pine, Spaltro plays both demure and daring, sometimes singing with a soothing, soulful flow and at others unfurling blazing guitar solos and powerful drum bursts. The album opens with “Hair to the Ferris Wheel” as Spaltro sings, “Take me by the arm to the altar/ Take me by the collar to the cliff,” a line that perfectly typifies the dichotomous energy of Ripley Pine. Spaltro continues to roll out this kind of juxtaposed imagery in lines like, “Take me by the waist to the water/ Take me by the hair to the Ferris wheel/ Take me by the wrist to the river/ Take me by the braid down to my grave,” delivered over reverb-laden electric notes. Eventually, the song reaches full-on propulsive proportions and you’re with her all the way.
“Aubergine” follows and continues the model set forward on the opener, but maintains the rock more steadfastly. In the song’s final minute sharp inhalations punctuate the mix as Spaltro belts it out passionately. It’s this kind of genuine, raw energy that defines Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and makes the album affecting and distinct.
Quiet moments crop up throughout Ripley Pine, during which Spaltro delivers delightfully smoky vocals over simple acoustics or, as on “Regarding Ascending the Stairs,” a banjo. However, most of the time, she lets herself loose to great effect, sustaining energetic folk rock over songs upwards of six minutes. There are four of those. Usually, if a debut album attempts twelve songs with a third of them extending past the six-minute-mark, it stalls out and falters, but Spaltro sustains not only the individual songs, but also the album as a whole.
Ripley Pine is a lot to take in—an ambitious and confident album that reflects the diligent work of a fiery new voice in folk-leaning indie-rock. Spaltro comes across as the kind of artist that we might find to be incredibly prolific, capable of delivering high volumes of music in a short time. She has certainly packed a tremendous amount of emotion and musical variety into this hour-long album, which makes a solid claim for her as a household name in indie folk.
Below you can stream “Bird Balloons,” one of the album’s most rocking and aggressive cuts.