Margaret Glaspy - Emotions and Math
The title of Margaret Glaspy's debut album, Emotions and Math, describes a brave and honest tension, the snap decision in face-to-face situations when our emotions either run free, or hold fire before pressing the fateful ‘Send’ button. In the California raised, New York based musician’s own words: “I’ve always considered myself a free spirit, someone who goes with the flow, but I’m not exactly like that. This record taught me that I’m super analytical and process-driven. They go together, emotions and math.”
Glaspy's sophisticated lived in voice warms as it journeys between tender and bothered, imparting a knowledge beyond its years describing the pressure between looking forwards and backwards. The title track reminds of Jenny Lewis at her ballsy best looking backwards ("I was a rolling stone just out on my own"), whereas 'You and I' looks forwards from the youthful agency of one’s formative years like Palehound with a Beatles sound – the sort that Elliot Smith loved: a pained and honest it's not you its me (“I don’t give a fuck about you and I / I don’t want to see you cry but it feels like a matter of time”). Comparisons are for descriptive purposes, multi-instrumentalist Glaspy, a former marching band member on trombone who has played the fiddle competitively, deserves better than pinning down and her listeners are the richer for it.
Coast-to-coast travel needs a purposeful work ethic and Glaspy's music is broadly relatable while telling specific stories. 'Situation''s distorted guitar signals concern journaling a man who followed her from show to show, the frightening privilege from an unwarranted assumption of knowing somebody. A needy isolated guitar soundtracks 'Somebody to Anybody' as the journey continues ("I'm a little drop from a big fountain, I blend in, that's fine") with a twist in the tale clarifying "I don't want to be somebody to anybody." 'Parental Guidance' is a historical reference outside of Glaspy’s direct timeline recalling the Columbine school tragedy’s sense of how people treat each other even at a young age. Halcyon nostalgia invites in 'No Matter Who'’s traditional AM radio opening ("Dancing around the telephone”), counterpointing an awareness of rose-tinted spectacles in 'Memory Street', which despite painting a winsome picture of "My feet on the dash of his car", questions “Why remember all the times I took forever to forget" – nostalgia's not what it used to be. Various genres are referenced: ‘Anthony'’s country style laments "Anthony never bought me anything / No diamond wedding ring" on top of steel guitar with a lovely closing hours night club feel, while 'Black is Blue' is more, blue, "My mother still talks down to me / My little girl can see right through me" returning to an intergenerational tension.
Margaret Glaspy's album despite including stories of despair is positive, using self-criticism via edge of the frame observations from her short rich history as a means to gain the strength to move forwards. An honest piece of work that lives up to its high watermarks, and with its creator, containing the brash brave spirit of New York.