Margaret Glaspy: “I feel the most at home with this music and this record.” (9/29 at Underground Arts)

August 18th saw the release of NYC-based singer/songwriter Margaret Glaspy’s third full-length, Echo the Diamond, courtesy of ATO Records.  However, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection had...

August 18th saw the release of NYC-based singer/songwriter Margaret Glaspy’s third full-length, Echo the Diamond, courtesy of ATO Records.  However, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection had already gotten a few chances to experience the songs live.  “We had the opportunity to play the songs on this tour I did with Spoon, and that was super fun, and we played at a number of radio things before the album came out,” Margaret tells me during a recent phone chat.  Philly had the chance to see Glaspy supporting Spoon at The Fillmore in May of last year, in addition to a NON-COMM set at World Café Live this May.  She even returned to World Café Live the day the album dropped to perform a Free at Noon set featuring six of the LP’s 10 tracks, along with two songs off of her 2016 debut, Emotions and Math.

During our recent chat, Ms. Glaspy tells me there’s definitely a reason she keeps coming back to the 215: “Oh my gosh, Philly is completely on my list for my favorite cities!  There’s a really special vibe in Philly.”  She credits much of this vibe to WXPN, who have been bringing local listeners many of the most noteworthy artists of recent decades: “There’s something about XPN and their relationship with listeners.  Every time I play Philly it’s really epic.”  But she also cites Philly phans themselves for having something special about their listening habits: “Music listeners there really hunt down things they like…  I wanna do good by you guys, and bring back a show you haven’t seen yet!”

Margaret Glaspy will be back in town in the very near future, when she headlines Underground Arts on Friday, September 29th, the second night of her North American tour.  This will actually be the artist’s first time headlining Philadelphia since 2018 at Johnny Brenda’s, where she had become a bit of a regular.  During a 2022 chat, reflecting upon those days (including a 2016 date with support from Adrianne Lenker), she told me, “I feel like Johnny Brenda’s just has a special place in my heart…  There’s something special about that venue.  Music lovers come to Johnny Brenda’s.”

Her upcoming stop at Underground Arts will be Margaret Glaspy’s biggest local headlining gig yet, and she’s working on the show while we speak, telling me, “I’m focusing all my energy on this show, right now.  God willing, we’ll be able to put on the show we want to put on for you!”  She explains, “It’s the first time I’ll be able to play a catalogue, and feature all three records I’ve made.  It’s fun to be able to approach a show and actually build a show, and create a little more of an experience, instead of just coming up with a setlist.”  She does, however, admit, “We will highlight Echo the Diamond, completely!”  She also tells me that the show will have at least a somewhat different vibe from her days at Johnny Brenda’s: “It is more of a rock show, for sure!”

When we spoke in March of last year, Glaspy had already recently finished recording Echo the Diamond, and told me, “I’m just wanting to make records that are really fun to play live with my favorite musicians…  It’s a rock record.”  And critics’ early assessments of the album are certainly picking up on this, with Pitchfork writing, “Singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy returns to spiky, guitar-forward songs on her third LP,” and MOJO saying, “Glaspy’s third is well-crafted and unfussy, foregrounding her sturdy guitar and clear sighted lyrics that range between grungy disaffection…and brittle yearning.”

“Get Back,” the latest single from Echo the Diamond, rings of the most uplifting kind of mid-‘90s alt-rock that would have been at home at Lollapalooza or Lilith Fair, alike.  BrooklynVegan called it, “anthemic and stirring,” and premiered the song’s music video, directed by Phineas Alexander, which features Glaspy skating, surfing, jogging a woodland trail, indulging in a farmers’ market, and partaking in a tea ceremony.   She tells me the video serves as her own sort of personal video brochure for New York: “I got do what I love, but also highlight New York and all the things you don’t necessarily expect about it, and share all of those things, like you can go surfing, or go to a tea ceremony!”

The video also features Margaret Glaspy performing in a black crop top and leather pants, a look not dissimilar to the black mesh and studded mini-skirt she dons on the cover of her latest album.  She’s apparently been taking recent sartorial inspiration from Vivienne Westwood’s punk fashions, which pairs quite well with the sound of Echo the Diamond, which she has admitted also took notable inspiration from NYC punks Sonic Youth.  However, the look and sound are at least a little different from those that accompanied 2020’s more synth-forward Devotion.  But when I ask her if she feels significantly different from the artist behind her sophomore record, she tells me she does not: “I don’t feel different, I feel the most at home with this music and this record.   It feels the easiest and most effortless.  I feel like I’ve finally come home in a certain sense.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.