Album of the Week: Margaret Glaspy, 'Emotions and Math'

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Margaret Glaspy, 'Emotions and Math'
Margaret Glaspy, 'Emotions and Math' (ATO Records)

Emotions and Math is a stunning debut from one of the best emerging singer-songwriters of the year. Margaret Glaspy made her start by self-releasing apartment recordings, filling opening slots on tours, and experimenting with new material. Her commitment to road-testing her songs paid off.

It was in mid-February when Margaret Glaspy made a stop at the 7th Street Entry for a weeknight headlining show. There might have been 30 people in the room by the time she took the stage. Sitting on a folding chair with a small amp to accompany her Telecaster, Glaspy strummed through songs from her then yet-to-be-released debut album. From the first notes, the small crowd turned silent. Glaspy's electric guitar swelled from the stage as her voice cut through the room. Her guitar and voice was all you needed to understand that Glaspy writes songs from the core of her being. They are deeply personal stories that are universally relatable. Like Lucinda Williams (whom she covered that evening with a playful version of "Fruits of My Labor"), Glaspy carries a rare ability to translate all her emotions into song.

Fans who experienced intimate performances like that night in Minneapolis know that each song on Emotions and Math works equally well whether it's Glaspy with a guitar or backed by the full production you hear on her album. That's because her writing first sounds simple until you listen to the lyrics to discover songs that are desperately complex. Glaspy observes the obvious while uncovering the subtle nuanced emotions of how we relate to each other as humans.

From the album's title track to the second single, "You and I," Glaspy points out the irony behind a cliché love song. She paints pictures with her lyrics of contrasting physical and emotional spaces. Like feeling loved while you're alone in a bathroom, or being overwhelmed with loneliness while lying next to someone you love. On "Memory Street," Glaspy explores the contradiction of being nostalgic for a relationship that has ended. There is something profound in her final verse, "I won't go back, but when I go back, I'll try to remember all the times I took to forget." The images and emotions conveyed throughout the album stay with you even after you're finished listening.

With influences from blues, rock and folk, Glaspy crafted an album that presents something original. Despite the occasional recycled riff or rhythmic change, each song has a unique quality that comes from Glaspy's talent as a writer. That ability to create something that sounds original is a talent many songwriters spend a career trying to accomplish, and for Glaspy this is just the beginning.

Emotions and Math is available now on ATO Records.

Audience ratings for this album


The Current's listeners like Margaret Glaspy. One-hundred percent of those who submitted a rating for this album gave it 5 stars out of 5. Poll closed at noon on Friday, July 29.

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    Margaret Glaspy (Ebru Yildiz)

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