The Sinclair, 2/10/17
For Tender Warriors, her quietest and most intimate release, Lady Lamb embarked on her first solo acoustic tour. Most of the tour has taken place in living rooms across the country, Lady Lamb airing her songs in the midst of fifty or fewer onlookers sat on couches.
On February 10, she took to the stage of a more conventional venue and played the Sinclair. Although the Sinclair is considerably larger than the average sitting room, the show felt as cozy and as slightly uncomfortable as attending a party in a stranger’s living room. Audience members filled the extended pauses while the demure and soft-spoken Lady Lamb tuned up with exclamations of love and occasional questions.
Lady Lamb’s music has always been emotional and lyrically complex, but her instrumentation, particularly on her 2015 LP After, is big and sometimes violent; she is no stranger to yelling and pounding on strings to convey sentiment. But on Tender Warriors, she’s stripped back and conveys emotion through somberness and simplicity.
Clothed in the navy Tender Warriors baseball jacket from the EP’s promo art, Lady Lamb (aka Aly Spaltro) was flanked by her two guitars and a banjo. She played the majority the Tender Warrior Club’s tracks, interspersed with favorites and choice cuts and favorites from her previous releases. The crackle of Lady Lamb’s voice brought electricity to the melancholic and lilting “Heaven Bent”; there was a powerful beauty to her singing “love is a luxury that I can’t quite afford” and the other wrenching lyrics of “Tangles” to a silent and awestruck crowd over nothing but sparse guitar strokes. One of her most popular tracks, Ripely Pine’s “Aubergine,” was turned into a joyous singalong. She followed these with “Florence Berlin,” “Ten,” and “Crater Lake,” songs about loves sweet and lost and days long past.
Before finishing off the set with the banjo contemplative on love and fate, “We Are Nobody Else,” Lady Lamb took a moment to explain the album’s namesake, the Tender Warrior. “For me it means somebody who makes an effort to stay sensitive and to stay tender through the difficult challenges in their life. As opposed to the alternative, which I find myself doing a lot, because it’s easier, which is to shut down. So basically, this idea that there’s a lot of courage in being sensitive and compassionate, especially when we’re confronted with things that are confusing, or that we think are awful, or that we’re afraid of. . . I wanted to make this club, firstly as a reminder to myself to try to stay open instead of closing up . . . but basically this club is a reminder to anybody that needs it.” Amid whoops and cheers, she played her final song and descended into the crowd to meet with her club at the merch table.
Lady Lamb is among that charmed set of musicians who in a live performance can make an audience feel so much with so little. With that quality, and the sentiment of her Tender Warriors Club, you would be hard-pressed to find an outgoing audience member who wasn’t moved.