Life’s choices are usually determined by two things – our feelings and calculating the risks, all of which are surmised in Margaret Glaspy‘s witty and cleverly titled debut full-length Emotions and Math. Although most of the songs on the album focus on well-covered themes of love and relationship. Emotions and Math is not the typical, gushy love record. At the heart of this gritty blues-rock LP is a strong, fiery, independent woman who doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her and simultaneously she won’t be doing the same.
“Take your hands off of me. There’s nothing wrong with me,” sings Glaspy on “Situation”, a no-nonsense, antithesis to the usual, melodramatic love song. She goes on to add, “I don’t like sympathy. Don’t you dare pity me because you don’t know my situation. We’ve had at most one conversation, so don’t come out of the blue and tell me what to do.”
On the boisterous “You & I”, Glaspy shares her thoughts about an ex, providing lyrics that are have a Liz Phair-flair. The song is whimsical yet at the same time there is a hint of anger in Glaspy’s voice, as if to tell her ex to go fuck himself while laughing quietly in the distance. “I’m not looking for an open door to talk about love. Maybe you agree but I see you saving pictures of You and I. I don’t want to see you cry, but I think it’s just a matter of time.”
The title track offers a different take on a relationship, one of fear, reservation, and the hope of getting out. The lyrics are frighteningly poignant, and the intensity is furthered fueled by Glaspy’s steely delivery. It’s a song that will leave you cold in your tracks.
“Counting all the days til you’re back, shivering in an ice cold bath
All the emotions and math.
I’ve got to get off this tree, off of this limb
I’m a woman acting like a kid.
A skinny mess that’s breathless from telling you all of the things that I’m going to do.”
Emotions and Math, though, has its tender moments. On “Anthony Revised”, Glaspy delivers a stripped back, melodic folk-rock tune sung with a touch of longing and regret. At times, Glaspy’s voice reaches higher pitches as she reminisces about the one who got away and daydreams about the “what if”. “You Don’t Want Me” is Bonnie Raitt-esque in its approach, and like the blues-rock great Glaspy plays with the listener on this he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not song. The soulful rocker “No Matter Who” injects some optimism into the album, as Glaspy sings about keeping one’s chin up despite having one’s heart broken.
The lovely “Somebody to Anybody”, meanwhile, staggers the line between the album’s polar opposites and represents the multi-dimensions of Glaspy’s songwriting. In the chorus, Glaspy sings, “I don’t want to be somebody to anybody no. I’m good at no one.” It is a calling of one wishing to be recognized yet not to be heard nor seen. A person who seeks to be relevant to someone but irrelevant to the rest.
But with Emotions and Math, seeking irrelevancy will be a nearly impossible task for Margaret Glaspy because her debut album is a memorable piece of art. Emotions and Math is more than just another record about love and heartbreak. It also reminds us that any person, even one who has been through a difficult experience, can overcome anything. That the human spirit is indeed fiery, strong, and resilient, which is an important message during these uncertain times.
Featured photo by Ebru Yildiz.
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