[Best of 2013] Favorite LP: Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Ripely Pine
2013 is completely defined by one record for me. I haven't had such a weirdly obsessive, almost religious, experience with a record since high school when I was learning what good music was and Modest Mouse's 'Lonesome Crowded West' made it's way into my hands. Brooklyn-by-way-of-Maine singer songwriter Aly Spaltro goes by the name Lady Lamb The Beekeeper. This year she released "Ripely Pine" as her debut record, and it's damn near perfect. It's riddled with sprawling, 7 minute songs that whisper intimately one moment and explode into bursts of guitars, horns, and, most importantly, Ladylamb's voice the next. Spaltro's voice can be both heartbreakingly delicate and incredibly fierce at a moment's notice. It has the sort of command that made singers like Jeff Buckely impossible to ignore. Spaltro's lyrical prowess is something unrivaled in music at the moment as well. The lines feel like they come directly out of her poetry journals and the images are so stark that they send shivers on your first listen. Ripely Pine is full of lines like "Let's crawl all over one another, like crows on a carcass, like ants on a tongue, starving only for the taste of tongue," and, "I'm as blue as blood before the blood goes red." It's a tight web of vignettes that end up making you feel everything from nostalgic to empowered, with an overriding sense of David Lynch-esque aesthetics hanging in the air.
If you want a record you can just listen to, it functions perfectly that way too. You won't find much in the way of pop song structure, but the hooks are hard to forget, the songwriting is smart, and the arrangements are so well chosen that the idea of removing the string section from a track, or even adding to one of the acoustic tracks, would be heinous. Spaltro spent well over 5 years working on Ripely Pine and it sounds like it. This is an artist who spent the time to fully develop and realize their creative vision, and she has succeeded 100%.