Live Review: Lady Lamb, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 3, 2021

Lady Lamb’s lyrics are elaborate, deliberate, delicate; you can listen closely, look for logic and lose yourself in overanalysis, but it’s lovely simply to luxuriate in the sound of Aly Spaltro’s leisurely delivery of unlikely yet precise verses and complex clauses.

At City Winery Philadelphia, honoring a concert date that moved multiple times over the course of a year and a half, Spaltro took the stage with the gorgeous, a cappella “Up In The Rafters,” silencing any stray conversation with her perfectly projected voice, then kept the whole room rapt with spare guitar arrangements of “Heaven Bent” and “Little Brother” before bringing out the strings for the balance of the evening.

Righteously armed with violin and viola, Abby Swidler, Pete Lanctot and Ginger Dolden added subtle color, texture and just a touch of theatricality to Lady Lamb’s intrinsically epic songs (“Hair To The Ferris Wheel” felt particularly electrifying as the three bows bobbed and raced), but they were perhaps most effective as nonspeaking emotional support for the singer.

Spaltro sounded more at ease than ever, chatting about her home, pandemic pastimes and evolving perspectives on certain songs and subjects, even explaining the familial inspiration behind “Sunday Shoes” with a candor and tenderness that only enhanced whatever interpretation listeners brought to it.

The 15-song, career-spanning setlist demonstrated how fully formed and self-possessed Spaltro has been from the beginning. The teenager who wrote 2010’s “Between Two Trees” was wise beyond her years; the woman overcome by the size of her feelings on 2019’s “Deep Love” has successfully resisted cynicism. They’re both in a lifelong conversation with the artist determined to bring a fresh perspective to midperiod tunes like “Salt” and “Taxidermist, Taxidermist” long after the relationships that inspired them have ended. That is, Spaltro’s eternally in conversation with herself and, by extension, with us.

Lady Lamb’s love language is love and language and love of language, all tangled together, and it’s unutterably beautiful.

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich