Good thing Lady Lamb, aka Aly Spaltro, makes music. If the 25-year-old songwriter had chosen to become, say, a tax auditor, we’d all be in trouble.
The self-taught singer and multi-instrumentalist who now lives in Brooklyn, just released her second studio album, “After,” in March. But her path to get there was paved with a special kind of determination.
Spaltro started playing music in secret. She collected instruments covertly in her Maine hometown, and taught herself how to play them all.
When it came time to record, Spaltro used time after shifts at a DVD rental shop, working in the building’s basement until the late hours of the night.
Before Ba Da Bing Records picked up her studio debut, 2013’s “Ripley Pine,” she had already self-released five albums and an EP.
She wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I enjoy it all,” Spaltro recently told DiscoverSD from a snowy tour stop in Burlington, Vt. “I started by being self-reliant and doing this on my own. Some people choose a producer because they have a sonic stamp and they want that certain sound. I’ve never felt that way. I love to produce. It’s one of my passions in the process. For me, it’s important to find people to work with who understand that I’m not looking to relinquish my control or ideas.”
Perhaps that’s why the singer and Brooklyn-based producer Nadim Issa have worked so well together. He’s helped facilitate many ideas on both of her studio albums. It’s uncertain, though, how much longer Spaltro will be looking for help.
“I hope to fully produce in the future,” she said. “You know, just figure it all out and have a great engineer.”
And if she has her way, that’ll be in her own home studio.
“That’s the dream,” Spaltro said. “A lot of the final parts on this record are taken directly from the demos I recorded in my bedroom. Even the vocal on the 11th track, “Batter,” was recorded in my apartment. So it’s something that’s totally feasible - especially if you have a good microphone.”
For such a proven, confident and hands-on performer, it’s not so much a question of if she’ll get her own studio. It’s a question of when.
“After” is an album that benefited from the knowledge the musician gleaned while recording “Ripley Pine,” and that process is bound to repeat itself with the albums that follow. Just don’t expect much creativity from Spaltro while she’s on tour.
“I’m not able to write music on the road,” she said. “I find it impossible. Time-wise and inspiration-wise, it just doesn’t happen for me.”
Spaltro is on the first official tour for “After” and won’t have any down time until mid-May. But you can bet the process will begin again as soon as she gets home.
“I do actually write lyrics when I’m touring,” Spaltro said. “They come first for me anyway. So I know when I come home, I’ll be putting music to them.”
Lady Lamb plays the Soda Bar on April 22. Rathborne and The Gift Machine open.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to email@example.com.