Ally Spaltro (Lady Lamb) Credits Neko Case and Feist as Most Influential
After moving from Maine to New York and cutting her first two albums there, Aly Spaltro’s heart remains in her homestate. But, she says, New York is a great place to create and express oneself. It’s also where – on September 26, 2013 – Spaltro, who performs as Lady Lamb, saw the best concert of her life: Neko Case at Radio City Music Hall.
“Neko Case has one of the most striking and emotional voices I’ve ever heard,” says Spaltro, whose second Lady Lamb album, After, was highly praised by critics after its release this March. “I’ve always felt that the brightness in her voice cuts so strongly. Her voice alone, aside from her excellent content and lyrics, is enough to make me feel all the feelings.
“What better place to see her than in a gorgeous 6,000-capacity theater?” she adds. “The sound was absolutely perfect; you could hear every single nuance in the music. The harmonies by Kelly Hogan were so lush and really filled the space with Neko’s voice, which was flawless as it always is. I have to admit to enjoying certain shows sitting in the dark with my eyes closed. This was one of those nights, and I felt so fortunate to be there.”
Case performed 22 songs that night, showcasing many from The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, which she released just three weeks before her Radio City appearance. A.C. Newman and his band, who were the warm-up act, joined Case for a rousing version of her final song, “Ragtime,” also the last track on the album.
Like Newman and Case, who play together in the New Pornographers, there’s chemistry in the studio between Spaltro and Nadim Issa, with whom she co-produced After.
“We have a great history of just working really well together and being in sync,” says Spaltro. “For this album, it was a very different process.”
Issa produced Spaltro’s first album, Ripely Pine, released under the name Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Spaltro has since dropped “the Beekeeper,” she says, because it was clunky.
Spaltro says Ripley Pine was arranged in a studio and took about nine months – a very different process than the After album. “I arranged the bulk of After between tours, by myself at my computer with some gear,” she says. “I was writing orchestral arrangements with the keyboard, so I went into the studio really prepared this time with very clear intentions of what the album would sound like. The process only took a couple of months.”
After is “much more personal” than Ripley Pine, Spaltro says. “Musically and thematically, it’s more direct, more concise, and a little more focused.”
Spaltro is known for dynamic, sometimes wild, live solo performances. She says another musician’s dynamic performance – specifically, a show by Feist last year – was the most influential on her career. It took place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at the Music Hall Historic Theater, an elegant 900-seat auditorium that dates back to 1878.
“I’ve been a fan of Feist since around 2005 and have seen her live with a band many times over the years,” Spaltro says. “At the time I saw her in New Hampshire, I was feeling a little jaded by live music. I had really stopped going to shows and hadn’t felt moved by one in quite some time.
“She stood alone on the huge stage with just a guitar and a few effects pedals for her guitar and vocals, and used them very tastefully. It was the most mesmerizing, fulfilling, beautifully sonic experience I’ve ever had. At that point, I had been performing solo for so many years and feeling disenchanted by it. I was going through a phase, believing there was only value moving forward in my career if I played with a full band.
“Feist’s set completely reinvigorated me and reset my perspective,” she adds. “Her set gave me a very strong confidence in myself as a solo performer that I had lost. I left that night realizing the power that one artist can have on a room full of people. I hung on every word. Every arrangement was exquisite, and if I ever feel vulnerable on my own, I think back on that experience.”