Just over twelve months ago, I met Margaret Glaspy and heard her perform for the first time at The Green Man festival in Wales. Her debut record Emotion and Math was only a few months old and her songs that afternoon sounded completely fresh and a just a little bit spiky, all delivered in an industrious manner by this young Californian who now calls New York home. I was therefore intrigued to see how these songs had fermented over the last twelve months and was also hoping for signs of new material that would hopefully be making their way to a sophomore release in the near-future. In both cases myself and the surprisingly thin crowd at the famous Trades Club in the West Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge were rewarded handsomely.
Pins and Needles kick-starts the evening and is the perfect way to introduce the uninitiated to Glaspy’s style and content; a raw tale of a relationship not quite working out the way it was hoped is roughly soldered on to primitive rhythms that she stabs distinctively on her Danocaster with consummate ease. Emotion and Math continues this thoroughy engaging reacquaintance with her debut record, reminding us all of the thrilling versatility of her vocals, which purr seductively one moment before ripping the paint of the wall with those growling, gravelly tones the next. Love Like This features yet more evidence of the incredible range of her vocals but also the ragged rage of her guitar that surrounds the subtle yearning.
Although impressive at Green Man, the intimate surroundings appear to enhance this vocal range to new heights this evening. Further evidence comes in the form of a Lauryn Hill cover called The Ex-Factor which she performs solo. Completely stripped back, her sublime rendition of the track possesses a real sense of the soul of the original but still retains the more primal approach that she has established on Emotion and Math and her vocals soar, eventually silencing the slightly raucous bar at the rear of the venue.
The potential of any future release is finally revealed following her solo slot with a couple of tracks including a portentous number called Not Your Father, Not Your Mother. ‘I’m not your mother – I’ll stick around, I’m not your father, trying to screw the whole town’ she sings ominously, creating a cast of dark and unrepentant characters that drunkenly weave their way amidst the distorted, off-kilter rhythms she creates with the help of drummer Tim Kuhl and bassist Daniel Rhine. This is followed by another new, unnamed track and both suggest a darker, more dangerous edge to any potential new record, whilst still retaining the unpolished, grungy aesthetic that makes her so appealing.
Naturally, much of her debut record is covered this evening, with Memory Street being a particularly coarse highlight, but we are treated to two exemplary covers in the customary encore slot that are perhaps an indication of her true inspirations. First up is the Lucinda Williams track Fruits of My Labour, which once again highlights the versatility of her vocals, along with her jagged yet particularly distinctive guitar style. The final track of the evening is even better though; Crazy Horse comparisons have been made before so it is perhaps unsurprising that she would choose a Neil Young song to end the night. Harvest Moon is one of Young’s most famous songs but this version, performed to an enthralled crowd, is delicately mesmerising, demonstrating the thrust of her influences and the confidence in her own ability to exteriorize her own style on something already so iconic. It was certainly an absolute pleasure to be reacquainted with Margaret Glaspy this evening!
Check out AMBY’s interview with Margaret Glaspy here.
Review and Photos by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto