Tuesday’s Tunes: Revisit Margaret Glaspy’s Gritty Album, “Emotions and Math”

Two equally difficult and confusing yet necessary areas of life.

It’s that time of year; the leaves are changing color and the warm, sunny summer air has hardened into a cool brisk wind that begs scarves, sweaters and sensible socks. Here are the main reasons why Margaret Glaspy’s Emotions and Math, which popped into existence this past June, is worth revisiting as you inevitably avoid braving the inhospitable elements of the great outdoors.

Margaret Glaspy is an incredibly brave and honest singer, songwriter, and performer. She holds nothing back. Quite the contrary: she leaves her thoughts and emotions projected before her, unafraid of judgement or criticism. Lyrically, she speaks with the directness of fellow female pioneers such as Courtney Barnett or even the late, great Janis Joplin. Like both of these rad female rock artists, she doesn’t seem to give a fuck what anyone thinks about the things she says, but rather the emotions behind them and the way they make people feel. Her songs detail the very real emotions which are essential to personhood on this planet, free from the compulsive need to rose-color the inevitable ugliness and confusion in life that is evident in mainstream music.

She struggles plainly with identity and the complications that come along with being a human and being in relationships with humans, without shying away from the frustration and even disdain we often feel for the world around us or even ourselves. To accompany this idea musically, there are very strong blues rock elements throughout which rise and fall with the temper of each track, bringing the audience through the full spectrum of pain, anger, happiness, and acceptance.

All of this is evident simply in the tenor and indefinable quality that makes her voice decidedly hers. Technically speaking, the breaks and somewhat harshly textured quality of her vocal could be considered imperfect. However, this is yet another example of the way in which her idiosyncratic nature contributes to a character which is an inescapably flawed but consequently magnificent entity. This all comes through beautifully in her live performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, as well as her recorded material.

The song “Somebody to Anybody” in particular speaks to an intensely relatable sentiment about the simultaneous freedom and loneliness that accompany “singleness.” In the song, she wrestles with the societal expectation for women to be romantically attached: “I keep my head down and both eyes wide. I don’t look up just side to side. And I stay well kept so they can see there’s nothin wrong with me, its just that I don’t wanna be somebody to anybody, no… I’m good at no one.” There is a certain redemptive and vulnerable quality to the song that will make you feel all kinds of things.

In any case, we hope this music will keep you warm through the Fall like it did during the Summer.


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