It begins with an ode. Easy guitar strums accompany a lilting female voice as it pays homage to the artery that carries oxygen in red platelets from our hearts to our brains, to our faraway fingers and toes. It begins with an ode to the heart.
It makes sense. Home is where the heart is, after all.
Lady Lamb’s (Aly Spaltro) After is a personal and touching attempt to navigate the various themes of discomfort when one is away from home, not unlike that of our very own college experiences. Her rich vocals shine brazenly through every song on the album, unafraid of connecting with the listener on a level almost too intimate for comfort.
She introduces herself without hesitation on “Vena Cava,” beginning the first chorus of her sophomore release with her powerful voice overcoming the distorted guitar. Spaltro immediately demonstrates diversity in her performance, leaving it impossible to cleanly classify her music as strictly folk, indie or grunge. She has been influenced by a sweeping variety of musicians such as Neko Case, Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Mamas & the Papas.
“I don’t know what I would describe my music as,” Spaltro admits in an interview with The Daily Californian.
“Billions of Eyes,” full of lo-fi guitar outlining evocative melodies, is one of Spaltro’s personal favorites on the album. Its lyrics lovingly remind listeners of sinking into the welcoming sheets of one’s own bed early in the morning, after a night of driving through headlight-soaked highways with friends. The song touches on the fault of our hearts of “romanticizing home when you’re away and romanticizing being away when you’re home,” the artist shares.
Where her debut Ripley Pine faltered — overall more unrefined and unclear in purpose — After succeeds, consistently conveying the message Spaltro intended. Both the intoxicating high of discovery and the yearning to return to a haven of comfort are heard in the instrumental architecture of almost every song.
For this record, Spaltro built each song on her own before recording in the studio, making use of her “great love of arrangement, of stacking instrumentation and layering.” When asked where her own home is, Spaltro — now in her twenties — responds with a smile in her voice, “I live in Brooklyn, but my heart is in Maine.”
She has since come a long way from the 18-year-old girl who learned how to first pluck copper-coiled strings in a video store’s basement in Maine. Between the intense nostalgia of “Milk Duds” — on which you can practically feel the anthems of your 17-year-old self buzzing in your ears — and the sweeping strings of “Atlas,” the album winsomely summarizes the beauty and pain of growing up, and finding the place your heart calls home.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper with be performing at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on April 25.
Contact Eda Yu at [email protected].