Aly Spaltro, under the moniker Lady Lamb, released her newest EP Tender Warriors Club last month; it’s a vulnerable, stripped down collection created with acoustic guitar, unlike much of her prior work. To honor her more intimate approach, she’s also been conducting a solo acoustic tour across the country, and while there are a few dates in small clubs – like the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on February 11 – most of the shows take place in unexpected locales: living rooms, galleries, coffee shops, and other small spaces that fit no more than 75 people.
The tour has been positive in an almost unexpected way for Spaltro. “Each one is so different than the last, and they’re all so unique and have a lot of character,” she says. “The hosts have been really, really amazing. It’s been unique to be closer to people than a normal venue and get to know people in their homes, to be able to see the crowd, to see everybody’s faces. It is very intimate.”
Spaltro’s booker was excited about the living room tour idea, so they collaborated with Illinois-based Undertow Music Collective to find the right spaces. She posted on social media asking fans to submit places where she could potentially play. “They would submit photos and information about their places to Undertow, and then I would go through and pick the spots,” Spaltro says.
On top of meeting awesome people, there have been plenty of adorable pets to meet, too, which it’s hard to not be jealous about. “Most people put their pets away [during the shows] because they get too excited,” Spaltro says. “But they at least excitedly run out the door to meet me the second I get there. And that’s one of the more exciting moments of my day.”
Spaltro’s attention to intimacy on both the EP and during the tour are a perfect balm for the tense climate the world is currently experiencing. But Spaltro said that this wasn’t even intentional. “It just so happened that the world is going through a really tumultuous time,” she says. “And I think I found through the last few weeks that the country collectively feels pretty heartsick, so I think that it’s especially moving right now for us all to just get together in small rooms and sing together. It’s basically one big sing-along.”
In fact, the inspiration for her EP was more personal – the phrase “tender warrior” popped into her head as she listened to and comforted a close friend on the phone who was going through challenging times. “She told me that she had just impulsively bought a flight to go to Paris by herself on a weekend that was going to be really hard for her,” Spaltro remembers. “Knowing that was a courageous thing for her to do, and she was terrified to do it, I was really inspired, and I called her a tender warrior.”
From there, she began thinking about the many people in her life who exemplify the tender warrior spirit, which to her means “someone who perseveres through hardship with grace and courage even when it’s really difficult.”
As she began building the album out, she wasn’t necessarily looking to create a solo acoustic EP; however, she found herself channeling a more sensitive and emotional side, which easily lent itself to the sonic palette for Tender Warriors Club. “I was trying to write full band songs for my next full-length record, but I was finding that the songs I was writing definitely wanted to be solo songs,” she says. “So I let it be what it wanted and recorded them the way I wrote them, just on one guitar.”
And from her experience of singing such emotion-packed songs in front of a tight-knit group, she admits that she’s “learned a lot about just taking things more as they come and not taking things too seriously or being a little less controlling out of fear that things are going to backfire on me in my life.”
Still in the midst of touring and celebrating Tender Warriors Club, she isn’t focusing so intently on creating a new record just yet. Spaltro says that when she does, her next effort is likely to return to the full band format that characterized 2013 debut Ripely Pine and its follow-up, 2015 LP After. “I think my next record will be more along the lines of my others where it’s full band with some solo songs mixed in, but I guess I never know until I sit down to write it,” she says. “That’s where this record was sort of a surprise, because I wasn’t expecting to write something so stripped down. We’ll see when things start coming together.”