So Emotions and Math is one of my favorite albums from 2016. Ironically my other favorite album from 2016 is probably guitarist and former child prodigy Julian Lage’s Arclight. I recently learned that Glaspy and Lage are together. After I became aware of this fact I felt unintelligent for not already knowing it because Lage and Glaspy have performed together on numerous occasions and the videos are all over the internet. But alas following music need not mean following which musicians are dating.
Back to the music. Glaspy has a commanding voice. Deep and a little raspy, to me she embodies modern blues vocal performance. Glaspy is an intriguing blend of country, alt rock and blues-y vocals. All together her voice is deeply emotional and is heard deep in your gut and heart. With influences from a crowd as diverse as Joni Mitchell to Janis Joplin to Patti Smith to Bonnie Raitt to Amy Winehouse I hardly even know what to think about Glaspy other than that I love it.
And then there is her guitar playing. Tight and delicate but beautiful and forceful, Glaspy knows exactly when to leave notes hanging and when to fill them in. I am so glad that she is her own guitarist because I wouldn’t want anyone else to be responsible for when to leave that crazy commanding voice alone and when to accompany it. Listen to her guitar come in at 2:16 on the track below, “Anthony.”
And then there is her songwriting. Personal and raw and often crude her lyrics add an interesting element to her music. Her commanding vocals in many ways require commanding and attention grabbing lyrics, but her guitar playing and her band are often much more delicate and measured. I guess this is what works so well about Glaspy and makes her so unique. The instrumentals are tight, spare jazz sequences but her vocals and lyrics are emotional indie rock. It all comes together in a hybrid, bluesy masterpiece.
Back to Lage. I’m bringing up Julian this time to make a musical point not a romantic one (although those two things aren’t so different). Listen to the link below. They sound incredibly good together which is in some ways surprising! Glaspy’s voice seems to shine most on her albums with more minimalist accompaniment. However, interestingly, with Lage’s complex fancy finger work Glaspy still shines.