Archive for the ‘Margaret Glaspy’ Category

[POSTPONED: April 16, 2020] Margaret Glaspy / Kate Davis

indexI loved Glaspy’s album Emotions and Math and I really wanted to see her perform it live.  Turned out she had played in Philly a couple of months before I first heard the album.

So I figured she’d be back soon.  Now here it is four years and a new album later and she’s finally coming back around.

However, this show conflicted with Kishi Bashi, so I was going to miss out on it anyhow.

Kate Davis is a former jazz prodigy who has suing jazz standards and played Carnegie hall.  Now she has gone indie rock.  She has a really nice voice and her songs seem to start quite and conclude with a grunge-lite flourish.


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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2019] Emily Reo

I hadn’t heard of Emily Reo before this show.  She was supposed to open for Charly Bliss back in June when the show was postponed.  Reo opened on the rest so it was nice she was brought back for this extra show as well.

Emily joked about mid-way through the set saying she hoped she requested the day off from work…otherwise she might not have a job tomorrow.  Not sure what her job was, but that was certainly endearing.  It also made me want to buy a CD (or a cool shirt) from her, but the line was massive (good for her).

Emily Reo is a musician and recording engineer from Brooklyn.  She has been putting out music for ten years. and has about a dozen releases.  Most of the songs in this show came from her newest album, 2019’s Only You Can See It.

I don’t remember the names of her live band mates, (sorry guys), but they played a simple drum, bass and guitar foundation for the synths and vocals that made up the bulk or Reo’s sound.

Reo had a keyboard rack in front of her.  But I was really intrigued by her voice.  In addition to being powerful with a  decent range, she multi-tracked her voice throughout the show.   I couldn’t tell if the extra vocals were prerecorded or modified live, but her backing vocals often had some kind of processing on it (or just a simple echo) to make her voice seem huge.

You can hear some of the vocal tracking (and a nice guitar solo) on “Sundowning.”

I loved the drumming in “Fleur.”  In fact, I liked the drumming in a lot of the songs–a lot of toms and interesting patterns.  She has some really cool vocal melodies on a lot of these songs like the really fast chorus vocals in this song.  Although I can tell I was too close because in the videos you can’t really hear her vocals all that well.

Ghosting” has some great high notes that really showed off her range.  There some more complex drumming in the middle.  She also does a few different vocals styles in this song.

After a few songs I saw her pick up a keytar.  If you play a keytar I’m going to be pretty excited.  If you use it as a midi-controller, creating all kinds of interesting sounds while also playing the main keyboard lines, I’m going to be super impressed.  This happened in “Balloon.”  Many times, the vocals were all kinds of processed, giving the a very cool robotic sound.

She played one song from 2013’s Olive Juice.  “Peach” sounded very different, including using a programmed drum pattern (the live drummer did join in, but the dominant sound was the electric drum). It was also the simplest song of the night (the chord progression of the verses was so simple as to be almost a joke).  The bridges has some cool sound effects thrown on top, but overall it makes me think that this album isn’t as strong as the newer one.

Once again, though I am really bummed by the lighting.  That magenta–barf.  They had even brought their own lighting projector which sent shapes on the wall behind them.  But it couldn’t defeat the pink.

I loved the guitar riff and build up in “Candy.”   There were also some interesting vocal filters (and you can actually hear the vocals in this video) for this song.  The drums were quiet but were cool with lots of little clicks and pops.  “Strawberry” started with a sequencer playing a line of keyboard notes.  New sounds were slowly added as the song grew more complex. until it resolved in a simple melody with a prominent guitar riff and layered vocals.  The most memorable part of the song came at he end when, through a filter that sounded a bit like a megaphone, she sang lyrics that were almost like a cheerleader:

what do you deserve from me
why do you always have to be
so c-r-y-p-t-i-c
save the calls for my kitty
wish you had earned that PHD
in r-e-s-p-e-c-t
how many girls in this city
are getting t-i-r-e-d
finding a sense of security
through h-i-d-i-n-g
wish i could swim but i’m in your teeth
wish you had earned that PHD
in r-e-s-p-e-c-t

And who doesn’t love songs with lyrics that you have to spell?

Interestingly, the Charlie might be the person in my favorite song, the set ending “Charlie.”  The song was a slow burner with some big soaring vocals and terrific harmonies.

She was an enjoyable opening act and I ‘m glad to have heard her.

One observation about her voice.

On record she has a delivery that I’ve noticed a lot of women seem to have lately and I can’t decide if its an affectation or an accent or an age thing or what.  The women who do it are not from the same place, so it can’t be an accent).  You can hear it in the way she sings the first line of “Sundowning.”  From 30-40 seconds, the lines “something familiar caught in a smokescreen / locked in a mirror.”  The way she sings the word “mirror” is weirdly affected.  You can also hear it from 2:55- 3:00 in “Ghosting” (“from a hollow tree / I’ve been spirit hosting”).  Other singers who have this kind of delivery include Margaret Glaspy (who is from California).  At around 48 seconds in “You and I,” listen to the way she sings “out on parade” is that same delivery but so excessive it’s practically slurred.  And around 1:40 ” I think you might be harboring a heartache” is just full of that delivery.  What is is called?  Also SOAK (who is from Northern Ireland and may actually have an accent in her delivery), but the way she sings “B a noBody” has a lot ofthat delivery in the first lines and in the way she sings “c’mon c’mon.”  Perhaps it’s generational.


  1. Sundowning *
  2. Fleur *
  3. Ghosting *
  4. Balloon *
  5. Peach ⊗
  6. Candy *
  7. Strawberry *
  8. Charlie *

* 2019 = Only You Can See
⊗ 2013 = Olive Juice

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SOUNDTRACK: MARGARET GLASPY-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 30, 2017).

Every year, NPR goes to the Newport Folk Festival so we don’t have to.  A little while afterwards, they post some streams of the shows (you used to be able to download them, but now it’s just a stream).  Here’s a link to the Margaret Glaspy set; stream it while it’s still active.

Margaret Glaspy has been making music professionally since 2010, but she released her solo debut last year and it’s really good.  She plays a rocking guitar, although she seems to play a lot on the higher strings.  Her sound isn’t tinny, but it’s a much more treble than bass.  But she’s got a two piece backing band to pick up and complement the low end.

She also has a unique vocal delivery style.  She enunciates words with a strange inflection–I never would have guessed that she is from California.  And it’s that unique sound that I think makes her lyrics that much more interesting.  She’s also not afraid to throw in a curse or a graphic description in her lyrics.

Glaspy played 13 songs in total.  10 of the 12 songs from her record, two new ones and a Lucinda Williams cover.

She doesn’t speak much, she just gets right to the music, playing the first five songs faithfully to the record with just enough grace notes to make it stand out.  But she seems to let it all hang out by the time she gets to “Situation” which has a much louder, rougher guitar sound–she really lets loose and it sounds great.

She introduces the band Daniel Ryan on the bass and Tim Kuhl on the drums and then she starts the slower “Black is Blue.” I hadn’t noticed before but at times her delivery is kind of like Laura Marling’s in this song.  “You Don’t Want Me” has a spoken word section and her delivery once again reminds me of Marling’s.  They certainly don’t sound alike, but there is something similar in the style–that would be an awesome double bill.

She might explain her lack of talking when she says, “This is my first time at Newport and I don’t take it lightly.  So thank you so much for having me.”

The NPR blurb also sees a lot of strength at the end of her set, so I’ll let them sum up

She says she’s “Got some new songs for you:”

a slow-burner called “Mother/Father” and another that doesn’t yet have a title [the chorus: life was better before we were together].  A late-set highlight was “Memory Street,” which boiled over into a seething solo before a final verse that had Glaspy repeating a disjointed phrase over and over, to the point of uneasiness [it is quite long, she sings the words “Times I” with an appropriate skipping sounding drum click for over 20 seconds]— a compelling imitation of the skipping record her lyrics invoked.

She plays a cover of Lucinda Williamss’ “The Fruits of my Labor.” and then ends with “You And I” and that catchy circular guitar riff that is so wonderful and original.

Glaspy has been on my list of people to see live and I hope she comes back this way after she tours around for a while.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “The Work You Do, The Person You Are”

This issue has a section of essays called “On the Job,” with essays about working written by several different authors.

Toni Morrison (it’s hard to think of her as doing something “before” being an author) speaks of working for Her, in the 1940s in a house that had all kinds of things that she had never seen before: a hoover vacuum cleaner or an iron not heated by a fire.

She gave half of her earnings to her mother–which meant she was helping pay the rent, which made her feel good. But she also got some money to squander of junk. (more…)

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6916SOUNDTRACK: MARGARET GLASPY-Tiny Desk Concert #560 (August 22, 2016).

margaretI really love Glaspy’s 2016 album Emotions & Math.  Her lyrics are sharp, her voice is unusual and mesmerizing and her guitar licks are simple but just chock full of hooks.  What’s not to like?

This Tiny Desk sees her playing songs from that album. Her band is just a bassist, a drummer and her on guitar and voice.

“Emotions & Math” starts off quietly with just bass and drums while she sings in that unique way of hers.  Then the guitar comes in–it’s nothing fancy, but it plays off the bass notes in a very cool way.  And it’s super catchy too.

“Love Like This” opens with a cool bass and drums rhythm–bouncy and tribal.  And when her guitar comes in, it’s with a ripping couple of chords before disappearing again.  Once again, the bass is rumbling along with her chords accenting in a neat way.

“You and I” bounces along with some low chords and bass and Glaspy’s most growly vocals. This song features the first “solo” which is really just the notes of the chords played, but it really stands out among the deep notes.  And once again, the whole business is really catchy.

“Somebody to Anybody” is just her singing and playing guitar.  Although it feels a little quiet without the rhythm section, she fills in more guitar parts on this song and it feels quite full.  And the chorus is, that word again, very catchy.

It was this Tiny Desk that sold me on getting her album, and I’m glad I did.

[READ: March 17, 2016] “The Running Novelist”

This essay appeared in the Summer Fiction issue of the New Yorker.  Since I really like Murakami, and hope to read more of him one of the days, I’m going to include this essay because it is as surprising as some of his fiction.

This is the story of how he became a runner and how he became a novelist.

He had been the owner of a small jazz club (which I feel he has written about in one of his stories).  It stayed open late and was a novelty in Tokyo at the time.  He had a niche audience and while many people didn’t like the place, he had a steady clientele.

His friends said it would never work, but he didn’t listen and he became quietly successful.  He was there in the morning and worked late at night.  And once he made a profit he hired people to help him out. (more…)

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