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Posted on April 14th, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Michael Negron

Aly Spaltro, also known as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, has been contemplating the oddness of existence in the simplest of places – namely, on a train while watching someone yawn. That strangeness bleeds into her recently released and equitably odd lyric video, hinting at an album featuring her signature quirky, yet introspective charm. From the onset of that album, titled After, Lady Lamb is in top form. “Vena Cave” matches her wispy charm with a ferocity that manages to catch you off-guard; transitioning from silky smooth, vocal-centric verse, complemented by oddly fitting, folksy strumming, to a chorus that can only be described as viscerally anthemic, Lady Lamb is doing well to shed her moniker. Still, she’s at no loss for poise, and as the album sinks into you its many odes to the everyman – in this case “Billions of Eyes” – that same attentive artistry plays out in a fashion familiar to many.

Lady Lamb’s talents are initially displayed not in daring compositional leaps, but in the effortless wash of vignettes expressed equally through her songwriting and lyrics. The theme of transportation via train, and its association with the struggles, quirks, and strangeness of daily life is first shown in the line, “the kind of high I like is when I barely make the train, and the people in their seats smile big at me,” spoken with a breathlessness that yields authenticity. Juxtaposed with a chorus consisting entirely of “da na na na,” something that in and of itself might be annoying or trite, instead feels exactly the way it should: like a celebration of life.

That’s not to say it’s a simple joyride the whole way through; the very next track inverts the formula, starting a capella, then running its melody through a rash of patchwork-sewn verses, before being joined by a second vocalist and finally, an instrumental passage. “Violent Clementine” is a wickedly refreshing fake out, smartly arranged, if not completely fleshed out. While certainly not “single material,” it serves as an important point in the album and foreshadows some of the structural deviations integrated into songs that might otherwise trick you into thinking they’re just plain pop songs – “Penny Licks” is the first to come to mind.

This reiterates a trait that best illustrates why After is a cut above standard fare; it’s often said that some have a “pop sense,” an intrinsic understanding of catchiness, and Lady Lamb has it in spades. She could have easily made an album that met your expectations throughout, while maintaining its accessibility. Instead, she chose to make an album as willing to subvert your presumptions without sacrificing an ounce of its impact as a pop passion piece. Not all of it works all of the time, and sadly, excluding the spectacular closer “Atlas,” it goes out with more of a whisper than a shout, but smack in the middle is the greatest argument for why that’s irrelevant: “Spat Spit Out.” It manages to tie together the album thematically – reprising the theme of trains – as well as encapsulate some of her most subtle songwriting, all in the context of a song whose chorus contends with the best any artist has to offer. A messy, yet incredibly intelligent mix of unconventional ideas, After disregards your expectations and makes you love it.

Track List:

  1. Vena Cava
  2. Billions of Eyes
  3. Violet Clementine
  4. Heretic
  5. Sunday Shoes
  6. Spat Out Spit
  7. Penny Licks
  8. Dear Arkansas Daughter
  9. Milk Duds
  10. Ten
  11. Batter
  12. Atlas
Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - After Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

70 / 100
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