Even In The Tremor
(Ba Da Bing!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It feels reductive to label Aly Spaltro, stage name Lady Lamb, a singer-songwriter. And yet she’s too good at those two pastimes to ignore it when describing her. On her third album, Even In The Tremor, Spaltro lets her songs stop and start, muscle their way into cacophonous corridors and dawdle in pretty little nooks. Meanwhile, the vocalizing of her wordy narratives rarely settles into a pat melody, instead wending in the direction her raw emotions are taking her.
Even In The Tremor, her third album, finds Spaltro questioning everything: religion, her own behavior, even life itself, as she sings on “Deep Love,” “I’m not convinced that we should exist at all.” She is the kind of writer who can recount details that feel telling instead of simply being part of a songwriting exercise. And she knows how and when to undercut the drama with sly humor or wry observations. “Apart from the relentless terrors I find that I sleep just fine,” she deadpans on the thundering “Prayer Of Love,” and marvels ironically at the “shimmer from the heavens we are cursing” amidst the New Wave snap of “Strange Maneuvers.”
Lady Lamb and producer Erin Tonkon keep the sonic landscape busy and surprising, even on the quieter numbers. They also aren’t afraid to go for heartwarming, which is something you might not associate with the indie-rock genre. “Deep Love” fights off a bad mood when the narrator focuses on pictures of old friends, a neighbor family and their pets, and a tender moment with her lover. “Emily” tries to teach a lesson to all the other questing souls in an unapologetically swelling chorus: “We are young/If only we could see/Beyond our fears where we are free.”
Spaltro’s incisive writing also shines on the darker numbers. “July Was Mundane” just might be the most devastating dissection of a failed summer romance since Death Cab For Cutie’s “Tiny Vessels.” And “Without A Name” describes utopia so winningly that it’s ultimately heartbreaking that it stays beyond our grasp. But the effort to get there is worth it, especially when it produces music like Even In The Tremor. “I can see a romance in the reaching,” Lady Lamb sings at one point. If that’s true, this album can give Harlequin a run for their money.