Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – After
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper a.k.a. Lady Lamb a.k.a. Aly Spaltro is pretty obviously an extreme talent. I saw her open for Kaki King a ways back and she clearly commanded attention. Her first album, Ripely Pine, was at least a cut and a half above the heartrending singer-songwriter mold. It was great overall, but one track, “Bird Balloons,” was a wild outlier, a tour de force that somehow did everything at once. After is a much more diverse album on which every track is at that level.
This album is an embarrassment of riches: there’s the tight frenzy of “Violet Clementine,” the ironically hymn-like “Heretic,” the wistfully upbeat “Milk Duds,” the roaring sorrow of “Dear Arkansas Daughter,” and the intensely stoic “Batter,” which takes place entirely in the last second before death. Spaltro has a knack for extracting big emotions out of tiny, even trivial details; “Billions of Eyes” spins an entire narrative thread out of a split-second of eye contract on a train. She’s also got a penchant for tempo shifts that add new dimensions to already great songs.
The fact that someone this talented isn’t hugely famous makes it obvious that we don’t live in a functioning society. On the other hand, fame actually sucks for everyone involved, so it’s better to leave it for the deranged types who care about fame itself, and let people who are actually trying to do something get on with it. But this implies that things are okay the way they are now, and that can’t be right.