Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Ripley Pine

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I had Lady Lamb The Beekeeper recommended to me by a few people a while back and then one night a couple of months ago (yeah, that's about how long it takes me to write things up) I was itching to see a gig, LLTB (the recording name of Ally Spaltro) happened to be headlining The Old Blue Last and that was that, I was there, and boy was I impressed. A set that started with the longest A cappella track I've ever witnessed instantly set-alight a show that would provide instant redemption for my decision to venture out on a Sunday evening and proof of a versatile voice and raw, expressive talent.

Most of the tracks played were taken from Lady Lamb The Beekeeper's debut studio album Ripley Pine, an album that since has easily become one of my favourite albums of 2013, a release that contains a few tracks that had been previously released on Ally's earlier bedroom recorded releases but I can ignore that as I'm late to the party... Ripley Pine devastates with an incredible range of songs that hit right at your soul, one minute stripped back electric guitar solo and then the next complex full-band arrangements with a running length that equally varies, from three minutes to seven yet the dozen tracks here are always rich and sophisticated, it is simply an incredible record.

At her most vulnerable on the exquisite "Florence Berlin", a stark, intimate heart-breaker and on "Little Brother", a soft delicate beauty that transports you to a world of soulful dreams with her lone electric guitars twangs sending shivers down your spine. "Bird Balloons" feels like it should be Ally's breakthrough track, as dynamic and powerful as a St Vincent and as epic and emotive as Patti Smith, it bursts with venom and anguish in equal measures and is as affecting as any song you'll hear this year.

My Jim Steinman roots mean I'm a sucker for long tracks and the two on Ripley Pine are possibly my favourites on the record, "You Are The Apple" is one of those rare tracks that brings you to a stand-still on first listen, progressing from a bluesy opening to a full band stomper with an eruption of raw emotion. Ally made a comment during the show about alienating her early fans with the 'polish' of the recorded album and thus also releasing a demo album via her Bandcamp yet, for me at least, it's the rough aggression that I find so powerful and astonishing, when the orchestra comes in; goosebumps all over.

"Crane Your Neck" closed the live set and is likewise the sort of track to bring an audience to a stand-still, even those at the back who come to gigs to chat to their mates stop to pay attention as Ally howls and shrieks with her typically unpredictable voice, resonating with a fiery intensity that perfectly sums up Ripley Pine, hot, rich and passionate throughout - do yourself a favour and order Ripley Pine via Ba Da Bing here.