As Margaret Glaspy quietly took the stage at SOhO, tuned her guitar, and politely greeted the audience, the venue took on an intimate vibe, as if the audience was getting ready for a living-room performance from its cool older sister. However, as soon as Glaspy confidently hit the gritty opening chords of “Emotions and Math” and her smoky, jazz-infused voice belted out the first notes, it became apparent that there was a lot more bubbling under the surface, and we were a crowd lucky enough to soak it all in.
Still waters run deep, and Glaspy’s achingly honest songwriting seemed to seep into everyone’s core. Although her tunes often dig into emotional wounds, they don’t dwell there; rather, they seem to excavate the dark times, awkward moments, and silly neuroses we often try to bury. For example, “You Don’t Want Me” goes back and forth between the insecurities and the reassurances often faced in a new relationship. The rollicking “You and I” hashes out the hard truths of a so-so love, admitting, “You and I have been a mistake / I let it linger too long.” While these stories may sound somber, her triumphant guitar, thick grooves, and humorous candor made me want to laugh, shrug my shoulders, and dance more than cry.
Glaspy attended Berklee College of Music, and her guitar chops are undeniable. As much as her visceral voice, which can switch from an airy lilt to a guttural growl in a matter of seconds, is an extension of Glaspy, her guitar seems to be part of her as well. Whether she’s diving into a moody revisit of a failed relationship, as in “Memory Lane,” or providing some hope, her lyrical sentiments are echoed musically with thrilling solos and punchy licks. With Glaspy backed by the skillful team of bassist Danny Rhine and drummer Tim Kuhl, the trio’s simple rock lets its impeccable rhythm and sense of raw fun shine through.
Glaspy’s music embraces the contradictions of life, offering empathy in the form of a brutally truthful lyric like “You’re thanking God above / That you’ve been loved / While wishing you had never met,” or a guitar riff that seems to cut through words to the unspoken feeling of shared experience. The music and lyrics feel lived in, and invite each audience member to enter and experience collective catharsis. Glaspy closed with a cover of Weezer’s “Across the Sea,” in which the final line assures, “I’ve got your letter / You’ve got my song.” In the Instagram age of finely filtered moments, the raw loveliness of Glaspy’s songwriting is a gift we can all be grateful for.