“I love Philly so much… It feels like an extension of New York or something, even though they’re so different,” singer/songwriter Margaret Glaspy tells me during a recent phone chat. Just last November the New York-based, folk-leaning musician opened Theatre of Living Arts for Ruston Kelly with a solo set featuring just Glaspy and a guitar. However, 2016 (when we first met her) had Margaret Glaspy headlining numerous shows at our favorite Fishtown watering hole, Johnny Brenda’s (including a date with recently profiled blues artist Adia Victoria and a date when Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker was actually opening for her), which she tells me quickly became one of her favorite venues: “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.”
Next month Margaret Glaspy will be embarking on a tour of far bigger stages than that of Johnny Brenda’s, when she hits the road supporting indie legends Spoon, which will have her at our very own Fillmore on Wednesday, May 4th. But, during our chat, she tells me that the size of the venue has little to do with how her performances play out: “In terms of venue, not a lot changes… The intent is very much the same, whether you’re playing in a tiny club with 50 people or a stadium.” Though, she does tell me that her opening set will be a little something different from what fans have previously heard and will span the entirety of her still relatively-short career: “On this upcoming tour with Spoon we’re gonna be playing some things from Devotion, some brand new songs, and some songs from Emotions and Math, the full spectrum.”
Emotions and Math is Margaret Glaspy’s debut LP, released in 2016 and what brought her to Johnny Brenda’s, while Devotion was her follow-up, which was released in 2020, yet had the same struggles as any other album that dropped during the pandemic. “What’s wild about that record is it never really saw the light of day live,” she tells me, going on to say that it provided a slight hurdle: “I was used to having live feedback. I don’t really do social media, like I don’t have Instagram on my phone. I think not having a live audience was weird.” However, the sophomore album was quite well received, critically. “Glaspy takes listeners through the full spectrum of heart-centric matter, from in-love to lovelorn, and it’s all connected through consistently excellent vocal work and a bold sonic landscape,” proclaimed No Depression, while Paste said, “Building on a well-received debut, and taking a bold step in a new direction… It’s an impressive feat that Glaspy manages to do both at once.”
Margaret Glaspy has some new music since Devotion dropped, both released and unreleased. Last month she released “Love Is Real,” an orchestral Americana number that she tells me was conceived in quite an untraditional manner: “’Love Is Real’ is an iPhone recording that we put to a string quartet. But it’s me and my husband, Julian Lage, playing it in a laundry room [laughs].” The single’s B-side, “Heart Shape,” was released earlier this week and, although the song certainly fits neatly alongside “Love Is Real,” the “upbeat [track] about hope and positivity” (echoing sonic sentiments of some of the best alternative folk of the ‘90s), was recorded using an entirely different process.
“It’s very much a B-side in that it’s the opposite. It feels like the yin and yang. I recorded all these different fragments of the song at home and then sent them out to some of my favorite musicians… I had my hands all over it. I really produced it. I mean, I produced ‘Love Is Real,’ but that was different…”
In addition to these two tracks, Margaret Glaspy tells me that she already has a third full-length completed and that she’s very excited about: “I just made a new record, about three weeks ago or a month ago… I’m just wanting to make records that are really fun to play live with my favorite musicians. That’s all I care about now.” She tells me that, for this one, she wrote more songs than she has for any record in the past, but tells me that by the time she and the additional musicians got into the studio, they just kind of let everything happen: “The idea was just show up to the studio and play and not really get lost in the weeds of production. I like producing records that way. We did the homework beforehand.” She also tells me that the album has her fully embracing a slightly heavier sound, which you can expect to hear when she plays The Fillmore with Spoon: “It’s a rock record. The next record is a rock record. It was very cathartic to make.
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