Torres / Lady Lamb the Beekeeper The Media Club, Vancouver BC, June 19

Torres / Lady Lamb the Beekeeper The Media Club, Vancouver BC, June 19
Photo: Alan Ranta
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Aly Spaltro (a.k.a. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) sang her first song, the a cappella "Up in the Rafters" in total darkness. This allowed the hushed crowd to focus entirely on her voice, which possesses a certain soulful grit. When the lights warmed up for her next track and she started playing guitar for a stripped down version of "Bird Balloons" from her debut album, Ripely Pine, one could see a world-weary look in her eyes, a glint of sadness. Granted, Spaltro didn't show a lot of vocal range, but she was solid in her pocket and powered through to the higher registers when she could, deserving full marks for the effort.

Spaltro was an endearing performer. She expressed regret that she didn't have her album ready for her first visit to Vancouver last October, and offered autographs with a gold pen to anyone who greeted her at the merch booth. Unfortunately, with only her voice and a guitar in the mix, one could clearly discern all of her lyrics, which didn't live up poetically to the passion of their delivery. The set's high point was her rendition of "Hair to the Ferris Wheel," which exploded into triple time at its peak, an astounding contrast to the rest of her laid-back set.

Playing with a trio of dudes on drums, bass, and guitar, Nashville's Mackenzie Scott (a.k.a. Torres) brought a rich sound with her on her first visit to Vancouver. Also playing guitar, Scott emoted resonantly as she sang, raising her eyebrows and curling her lips into a snarl as if by no will of her own. She had a bit more range to her voice than Spaltro, a little more introspection in her lyrics, and the ability to move between full band stuff and solo work with embellishments made her set feel more complete.

Scott moved to an Alesis Micron for "Chains" from her eponymous debut, which was presented as a mixture of kick drum, synth, and a long pick slide from guitarist Mark Sloan. Her version of "Jealousy and I" was particularly stirring, with just Scott singing and playing guitar, save for a few soft mallet cymbal rolls by drummer Chris DePorter, who mouthed the words as Scott delivered them. She then dug deep for new song "A Proper Polish Welcome," which carried a lot of weight thanks to her delivery.

Yet, there was something holding the set back ever so slightly. Her band wasn't entirely engaging, which didn't help; bassist Clark Casada looked like he was about to fall asleep on multiple occasions. They were all awake for their closing track, though: "Waterfall" put a heck of a button on this show, being longer and livelier than the version that closed her eponymous debut album. This was a great co-headline pairing, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and Torres work together again in the future.