By Carter Shelter, Contributing Writer
There’s always been something intimate about Lady Lamb’s music. Even at its biggest and most bombastic moments, her songs and lyrics give glimpses into her life and the way her mind works that can sometimes feel almost intrusive. So when the singer-songwriter — whose real name is Aly Spaltro — announced her EP “Tender Warriors Club” late last year, the fact that it was completely solo and acoustic didn’t come as too much of a shock. Still, it was a treat.
Stripping away the full band accompaniments that her songs typically have made this her most intimate release yet, allowing each song to hang heavy with its emotional weight while still proving musically fulfilling. Even better was the fact that Spaltro announced that her first tour supporting the new material would also be completely solo. While most of the tour saw her playing in fans’ living rooms across the country, some select cities saw her play real venues. At a sold-out show at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory on Feb. 11, Lady Lamb made the audience laugh, cry, smile and sing.
Aly opened the show with “Regarding Ascending the Stairs,” a touching, almost lullaby-esque song off her debut album “Ripely Pine” which couples a bubbling banjo accompaniment with her wistful melody and lyrics. She’s kept away from the banjo for the last couple years of touring, which often meant that great songs like this one wouldn’t make it into the sets, and seeing her back with it was a welcome surprise.
Delving into new material, she strapped on a guitar for the sparse and beautiful “Salt,” and the crowd fell close to dead silent. They felt the wounds in her voice as it reverberated softly through the venue with lines like “Some days I’m afraid I’m already mourning / Already mourning you. / Some nights I’m convinced I’m already dead,” her voice shaking just the slightest bit.
Part of the great charm that’s gained Lady Lamb her devoted fan base is the way her voice always feels as though it’s fully inhabiting the emotion or event that inspired the song, never settling for anything less. She also has a way of writing a line that makes even the wordiest of her songs stick in your brain — an ability that was on full display as she broke into “Aubergine,” another “Ripely Pine” cut that was greeted immediately by enthused cheers and an audience that sang along to every word.
After dedicating her song “Ten” to opener Henry Jamison, about whom the song’s lyrics tell a story, it was as though she had cast a trance over the audience, leaving them just swaying with the gentle guitar strums. Her rendition of the upbeat “Crane Your Neck” proved to be the show’s joyous peak, with Spaltro commending the crowd for spontaneously clapping along at one point before asking them to sing an upcoming high note for her, which they did with zeal. Spaltro countered by singing one of the song’s notable guitar lines to laughs from the audience and after the song stated that what had just happened should be evidence to dispel the myth that New Yorkers are “all cold and hard.”
Before closing the show with a beautiful rendition of the “Tender Warriors Club” track “We Are Nobody Else,” she explained the idea behind title of the EP, stating that it was a sort of movement she had conceived of that involves standing up in the fast of trouble and negativity with positive action; never falling to despair or apathy or anger, both on a personal level and in the face of current global affairs. In its focus on bettering yourself in response to external obstacles, it was a moment and a message befitting the intimacy of the show.
Email Carter Shelter at firstname.lastname@example.org.