Aly Spaltro comes across as a woman of action. The 23-year-old self-taught musician from Maine, who performs as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, exudes tenacity and cheek, a feverish tomboy energy that recalls early Kristin Hersh. In her video for “The Nothing Part II,” the self-proclaimed “pie hound,” dressed in full fencing gear, kidnaps a bunch of friends and ropes them into a pie-eating contest. Onstage she’s James Dean with a hint of Groucho Marx, amplifying the dramatic moments in her songs to the level of haute ham.
With Ripely Pine—the studio debut on Ba Da Bing, recorded with producer Nadim Issa after years of self-releases—she offers 12 pieces of early-style rock & roll, guitar-heavy with shimmering cymbals, horns, an American feel lent by fiddles, and carnivalesque theatrics evocative of the Dresden Dolls. But the instrumentation takes a backseat to Spaltro’s wending tales—a third of the tracks are more than six minutes in length each—and a voice bursting with cocky wit. She spins riotous worlds of alligators and strawberry cake, of Ferris wheels, altars and kitchen windows. Love’s terminology is napes and hips and smeared nectarines, conveyed with hyperbole and visceral proclamation: “I still need your teeth round my organs.” And with the bossy flair of a ringleader, Spaltro broadcasts vociferous odes to life that teem with subcutaneous hunger pangs and a wisdom beyond her scant two decades: “If you’re dreaming ’bout dying, then you’re not really living, darling.” It’s carpe diem dentata.—Kate Crane