By Cady Kuzmich
Clifton Park — Margaret Glaspy, a 26 year old northern California native with a rich voice and powerfully direct lyrics, released her debut album, “Emotions and Math” Friday June 17. Glaspy will be touring with indie-pop band Lucius and opening for the band before their June 22 show at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park.
Glaspy’s voice is soothing and gritty all at once — calling to mind a grunge-infused Joni Mitchell or Norah Jones with her honey-sweet, yet sometimes growling voice. She cites Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Fiona Apple as musical inspiration over the years. The paired down guitar thumping in her title track, “Emotions and Math,” is reminiscent of Alabama Shakes’ most recent album, “Sound & Color.” Shawn Everett, who mixed Glaspy’s album, has worked with Alabama Shakes and Lucius as well.
“In preparation for this record I was a dedicated writer most days. Now that I’m touring a lot it has changed a little,” said Glaspy. Usually, she said, “it’s an everyday endeavor.”
In her title track, “Emotions and Math,” Glaspy croons of heartache, singing “it’s just when you’re gone, I start to snooze the alarm and I stay up until four in the morning counting all the days till you’re back, shivering in an ice cold bath of emotions and math.” She later sings, “I’ve got to get out of this tree, off of this limb. I’m a woman actin’ like a kid.”
In an earlier song, “Somebody to Anybody,” Glaspy sings of struggling to remain unattached and insists, “It’s just that I don’t want to be somebody to anybody.” Another standout from her past work is “You’re smiling (but I don’t believe you)” a solemn and simple song where Glaspy sings, “You’re smiling but I don’t believe you. You still think I would never leave you.”
Glaspy was born in Sacramento and grew up in Red Bluff, California. The first CD she ever remembers buying was a Spice Girls album. Her first concert: 98 Degrees. She began playing fiddle in second grade and continued until she was about 16. According to ATO Records, Glaspy also played trombone for her school band. “Certainly no one in my family is tone deaf,” she said. “They all play guitar and are pretty hip to the music scene, for sure,” she added.
She eventually made her way to the east coast to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston thanks to financial support from the YoungArts Program, a talent-based scholarship foundation. “They took me under their wing and gave me money to start off and help me go to school. That was a send off to thinking my music career was possible,” said Glaspy.
Glaspy’s funds dried up before she was able to finish her studies at Berklee so she “snuck into workshops and master classes at the school and started to write songs more seriously,” according to her bio on ATO Records website.
During her time at Berklee, Glaspy said she crossed paths with Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius, though she said, “I didn’t get to know their entire band until we went on tour recently.”
Glaspy lived in Boston for about three years working odd jobs and writing songs after her brief stint at Berklee. During those years, when she was between the age of 18 and 21, Glaspy worked in a bakery, in a jewelry store, in a pizza place and as a babysitter.
About six years ago, she left Boston and moved to New York City. She now lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where she has been working on her latest album.
Of all the cities she’s performed in, Glaspy said Chicago is one of her favorites.
After touring with Lucius this June, Glaspy will be beginning her first headline tour in July. Then, as she makes her way into the end of the summer, she’ll be opening for acts like M. Ward and Iron and Wine.