Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Show review: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at Schubas, 5/14/13

By Andrew Hertzberg
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (credit: Shervin Lainez)
The cynics out there will try to tell you that every year, music is getting worse and worse and more derivative of years past. To them I suggest picking up a copy of Ripley Pine by Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, the alias of 23-year-old Brooklyn-via-Brunswick, Maine artist Aly Spaltro. The album is 12 tracks of dynamic and complex arrangements, backed up by string sections, insightful lyrics, and ambitious musicianship.

For Tuesday's Schubas show (Spaltro’s second time playing in Chicago) she primarily sang and played guitar and banjo, while backed up by TJ Metcalf on bass, Xenia Rubinos on keys and Marco Buccelli on drums. Rubinos and Buccelli actually opened the show. I only caught their last song (“Hair Receding”) but it reminded me a bit of tUnE-yArDs meets Matt and Kim. Keyboard-drum duo with more of an African or at least international bent. Rubinos’ voice has fantastic and dramatic range, nailing falsetto pitches, though the timing on some of their off-rhythm sections could use some sharpening. It wasn’t enough to prevent me from buying their recently released album Magic Trix though, a unique and diverse listen upon first spin.

As for Lady Lamb, Aly mentioned that she was feeling a bit ill. But her voice was pretty spectacular all throughout the set, particularly during the seven-minute “You Are the Apple.” Her voice only faltered during the last song, “Crane Your Neck,” but the audience was more than willing to pick up the slack. Surprising for an album that seems to have flown mostly under the radar so far.

Without the various instruments I was used to hearing on the album, the stripped-down set became that much more intimate. “Florence Berlin” reminded me of the disheartened and gloomy sounds of Rose Melberg, although overall I think Lady Lamb can best be compared to St. Vincent or a rough-around-the-edges Neko Case, who she is opening up for a few dates around Europe. As she is so young, Spaltro shows more potential than almost any other artist performing today. Combining a DIY approach to releasing music with complex songwriting can only mean that she will hopefully (probably) reach indiestar status within the next few years.

Although she couldn’t divulge the details, Lady Lamb promises to be back in Chicago twice before the summer is over. Xenia Rubinos should be back by autumn as well. Definitely two acts to keep a look out for on your show radar.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s setlist:

1. Bird Balloons
2. Hair to the Ferris Wheel
3. Aubergine
4. Little Brother
5. Florence Berlin
6. Regarding Ascending the Stairs
7. You are the Apple
8. The Nothing Part II
9. Crane Your Neck

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