Margaret Glaspy could be the next powerhouse in indie-rock. At 27 years old, her debut album, “Emotions and Math,” released June 17th on ATO Records, is already making waves on NPR, Billboard, and even the New York Times. The album ranges from quiet and haunting to fierce and in-your-face, with disarming lyrics that cut straight to the point. There are too many stand out tracks to list. “Emotions and Math” is a calculated and precise 12-song, 35-minute work of art.
Margaret flew from California to Berklee College with a $10,000 grant from the National Foundation for the Advancement of Arts. The money only got her through one semester at the college, but she didn’t let that deter her. After dropping out, she stayed in the Boston area using her expired school ID to sneak in to advanced classes. She also spent this time sneaking in to clubs (she was only 19) opening for Julian Lage and Lake Street Drive while in the area.
After Boston, Glaspy moved to New York and recorded the album that later became “Emotions and Math” on her own…twice. That’s right. This album was completed years ago. After signing to ATO Records last year, she recorded the album for a third time, this time with the guidance of professionals in the industry. Digging through old YouTube videos, you can see how her songs have been refined throughout the recording processes.
Margaret knows what she’s doing with a guitar. It isn’t for show, this girl has skill. Live shows are performed as a trio, with Glaspy carrying all of the guitar duties. Some songs are performed solo, but even then, she never loses the gritty electric guitar. Even softer songs with clean guitar tone pack a punch. Oh, and she can sing. Listening to a song like “No Matter Who” shows an artist that can write a catchy tune and even have long vocal breaks we typically reserve for pop artists like Adele, without having the song come off as showy or cheesy. That being said, Margaret’s real signature is in her bark. She sings aggressively, and the break in her voice makes the songs even more authentic.
If I had to pick one song, it would be the lead single, “You and I.” Generally speaking, the first single from an album is chosen because it’s short, catchy, and follows the verse/chorus formula. It’s tailor-made for radio consumption, and rarely a great song. But, there’s something different about “You and I.” It’s two and a half minutes long, it shows Margaret’s vocal and guitar skills, and will haunt your dreams with its fantastic hooks.
This is an artist everyone should support. She is young, genuine, and will be around for many many years to come. The songs are straightforward, the lyrics are fierce, and the production is magnificent. I can’t find a thing to dislike about this album. I’m calling the race early: Margaret Glaspy is the best new artist of 2016. “Emotions and Math” is certainly in the running for album of the year, as well.
Song to hear: “You and I”