After kicking around the East Coast for several years and issuing a pair of warmly received EPs, California native Margaret Glaspy landed a deal from Universal-affiliated ATO Records to release her debut LP, Emotions and Math. With an introspective, lyrical style that feels rooted in the traditions of the early-'70s singer/songwriter era but with an edgy, decidedly modern delivery, she presents an interesting hybrid. From her home base in New York, Glaspy quietly honed her material, gigging around the city and demoing a complete early version of her album from her Brooklyn apartment. When the ATO deal was secured, she headed to New York's Sear Sound to re-record the entire album with bassist Chris Morrissey, drummer Tim Kuhl, and keyboardist Tyler Chester. Mixed -- quite boldly -- by Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Lucius), Emotions and Math has a strange intensity to it that often belies the thoughtful, reserved image its creator effuses. Armed with an overdriven Telecaster and an idiosyncratic, half-mumbled vocal delivery, Glaspy dances nimbly between warm, bookish confessionalism and nervy stabs of feral energy in the form of bluesy guitar licks and hoarse, Fiona Apple-like growls and incantations. With the muscular rhythm section and her clever guitar work carrying much of the weight, she's essentially leading a power trio through a set of intimate, sometimes neurotic, inward-looking tunes that are far more confident than their lyrics sometimes suggest. A nice balance of salty and sweet is struck throughout the album with the punchy, melodic swagger of the title cut and second single "You and I" providing some of the saltier moments, and ballads like "Anthony" and "Black Is Blue" offering the sweeter. Glaspy defies easy categorization and this solid, cleverly written debut is a testament to her sense of craft.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger