- by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2016-06-26 Label:
Margaret Glaspy’s debut album “Emotions and Math” has a buzz happening about it and deservedly so.
One of the first singles (and a neat little video) is “You and I” which is essentially a break-up song, but features a sweet little riff that made me want to immediately drop what I was doing and pick up my guitar. Her sound is no-frills (guitar, bass, drum) with minimal effects; her Telecaster’s bright trebly sound run straight through the amp to perfection. Her voice ranges from an almost Appalachian drawl to endearing coos and down into snarling danger, all to provide the emotional depth for her compelling songs.
As for the songs, they’re a testament to her musical roots and influences as well as her notion of drawing influence from “everything.” Most songs are traditional electric folk, but there are clear nods to country, pop, and blues. Regardless of the style, they are all loaded with succinct, clever, and heartfelt lyrics, mostly hinting at relationships gone wrong, and of the strong survivor who emerges when the dust settles.
On “Somebody to Anybody,” a simple chord melody supports strained and aching vocals about the perils of caring too much. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. “Pins and Needles” is driven along a discordant and angry road that again harkens back to relationship dramas best avoided. “Parental Guidance” returns to a quiet mood, this one with a tinge of blues distortion on both her guitar and vocals as she pleads, “It’s about time you started to try a little harder, don’t you think?” “Anthony” reminds me a bit of Liz Phair’s earliest stuff, with just a guitar and a meandering story-lyric and the closer “Black is Blue” finishes things on a high.
Two songs that resonate the strongest are “You Don’t Want Me,” a jaunty little country-tinged song that features Glaspy using some humor to deal with the insecurities and self-doubt many of us feel when we’re in a good relationship. It’s a sharp marriage of wit and openness. “Memory Street” is a nasty blues snaking beneath some sharp lyrics about lingering misery (“…the times I took forever to forget”).
Ms. Glaspy is a gifted songwriter with heart, hard-won wisdom, and the sense of humor required to manage it all. She’s got a busy summer touring schedule, so if you get a chance, see her.