[sic] Magazine

Lady Lamb – Even In The Tremor

Aly Spaltro, aka Lady Lamb, aka the impossibly fey Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, has come a long way since her 2015 highlight “Billions Of Eyes” lit up these pages during our year-end singles. On a trajectory even then out of quirky alt-folk and onwards into more refined indie-pop, her third studio album is more pop friendly still and yet so too is it more vulnerable and at the same time more musically confident for Even In The Tremor is an album about both “self-loathing and self-love” and thus it serves up a number of such conflicts. The Maine singer-songwriter has consequently never been more lyrically honest nor intimate, but her vocal now ranges impressively too, her songs often beginning quite humbly on the guitar before swelling into something much BIGGER.

Accompanied by Benjamin Lazar Davis (Okkervil River) on bass, synth and piano and Jeremy Gustin on drums, Spaltro conjures vivid snapshots of her upbringing and insecurities throughout, the whole album “about facing who you are and fighting your way toward self-acceptance”. Starting strongly, there’s an immediate recognition that we all have “Little Flaws” and, over a deceptively accomplished tableau of playful strings and percussion, there’s a gentle coming to terms with realising that that’s what makes you unique, if not quite perfect. On the intelligent title-track however, she decides that attack is the best form of defence against the perils of overthinking issues and she launches into a bout of parping, clapping alt-pop part driven by fear and part by the pure adrenaline of celebrating the obstacles she’s managing to overcome. “Strange Maneuvers” is another high-octane romp in this vein, this time owing to the likes of Merrill Garbus, the track’s musical extrovertism masking Spaltro’s lyrical doubt. Sandwiched in this hot run, however, is the telling “Untitled Soul”, a stately lament that makes it clear that every day’s a battle, some of which she will lose on the way to winning the war. Plugging in after an acoustic beginning to hit soaring peaks of distortion, she’s not going to go down without a fight though, turning in the sort of impassioned rock that’d make Sharon Van Etten proud.

And yet, as Spaltro herself would no doubt acknowledge, there are flaws with Even In The Tremor. The melismatic choruses from the otherwise touching “Deep Love” are belted out straight in the direction of the charts and they’re a little off-putting as a result. The effect resurfaces in the closer “Emily” in which indulgent humming is taken far too seriously. Choruses in general are now routinely supersized too, such as the one on the nicely melodic “Oh My Violence”, but this seems to come at the cost of identity, many of the album’s second-half sounding like nothing more than shadows of the first, those tracks that do stand out doing so for the wrong reasons, such as the stripped-back “Young Disciple”, which suffers from a couple of clunky rhyming couplets. This is all what makes Spaltro unique though, her continuing musical and personal evolution hopefully now allowing her to self-identify such weaknesses and be strong enough to take constructive criticism such as this in the way it is intended.

Best track: “Little Flaws”

~Even In The Tremor is released April 5th 2019 via Ba Da Bing.~