Emotions & Math by: Margaret Glaspy
album review 001
The pursuit of personal perfection is noble. Honing a craft is humbling. A seasoned vet, entering her first game in the league is oddly noteworthy. A rarity. Cue Sacramento -born singer songwriter Margaret Glaspy. A dedicated 27-year-old with a track record of effort. For years she’s focused in on developing her writing ability and technical skill, recalling the Joni Mitchells and the Donovans of albums passed. And, in a mere 37 minutes of music, she has forged herself a stronghold on the curiousity of so many music lovers. Emotions & Math is a remarkably confident, vastly reflective, and damn honest debut. and here’s the kicker: it’s a self-produced project.
The tremendous fervour with which Glaspy works is only matched by her flawless execution. With a voice unheard of, until her seemingly signature warble exclaims “Oh, when I got you by my side, everything’s alright” on the titular track to open the album.
Or when, with an autobiographical tinge, she repeatedly wrestles with reunion. The lead single, You & I, nests a confession that “tonight I’m a little too turned on to talk about us, and tomorrow I’ll be too turned off and won’t give a fuck, about you and I.” Blatant, abrupt, yet so enthralling.
Such lyricism is fundamental to this record. With desperate intimacy, Glaspy flips the switch between self-examined and distant story-telling with an ease I’ve yet to witness in 2016’s crop of top projects. Her tone is cathartic and analytical.
If You & I is a track that serves to introduce the world to Glaspy’s versatility, Memory Street is the track we can stack the entire record upon. Recollecting on “all the times [she] took forever to forget” with an ex, she readies herself for a restless pain. With an unmatched vocal intensity, the call is “to go back to wherever the fuck you came” because she is done. One can’t help but notice how familiar these feelings are. How familiar this record is.
Any musician will appreciate, perhaps marvel, at the simplicity displayed on much of this album. It is the farthest thing from maximalist. The airy silence is not subtle. But it’s meticulously placed. Just as the painter skillfully uses white patches of canvas, Glaspy rests her voice to convey inordinate pensiveness. Layer that on top of bare guitar riffs and a stripped down rhythm section, and the golden nuggets start to surface. The riffs are accentuated and our focus is diverted to that which holds all the complexity. Her voice.
The interplay of a solid, but simple backbone, and a completely unique voice forces this album to be lyrically driven. We have to expect literary gold. And Glaspy delivers track and track again.
This project, in it’s entirety, is one of the best this year has offered.