Margaret Glaspy doesn’t like talking about her own music much, but get her talking about who she’s listening to and her enthusiasm peaks as she chats with us en route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Glaspy and her band are touring for her summer-released debut album, “Emotions and Math,” which has had critics dubbing her spare raw rock songs with the G-word — grunge!
“It’s not for me to talk about what people say about my music. As to meanings, I don’t like to talk about that; I don’t like to talk about my song lyrics,” says Glaspy. People are certainly listening though: recently she opened for The Lumineers and Lucius, and when her current headlining tour ends she will hop on some dates with Blind Pilot.
Glaspy might well dry up when asked about her own songs, but she will talk at length about what she listens to.
“It is always changing and it’s never genre specific. It’s content specific. I don’t love rock music, but I love certain things in it, and that goes for all other genres, too,” says the 27-year-old, who grew up in California listening to everything from Joni Mitchell to Jimi Hendrix to Michael Jackson, courtesy of her parents and siblings.
“Right now, I’m listening to Bjork and Slow Dancer, this Australian singer songwriter,” she continues. “I always listen to a lot of Bob Dylan, and I constantly go through Elliott Smith’s catalogue — he educates me,” she coos fondly of the late American pop singer songwriter.
It could just be that Glaspy is avoiding pigeonholing herself. “Emotions and Math” is a musical map of where she's been, but not necessarily where she’s going.
“It’s a collection of songs that fit together,” she says. “They were written over the course of six years, I was 21 when I started — actually, some are even older.”
While Glaspy, who is based in New York City, sounds pretty laid back and her loose, raw song style is easily described as slacker, nothing about her record is happenstance.
“I labor over the lyrics quite a bit,” Glaspy says. “In terms of the sound, the production, the arrangements, it’s all very intentional: this is exactly what I intended each song to sound like.”
The next batch of songs is already cooking, she says, and as to where that’s going, guess what? Wait and see: “I’m listening to a lot of classical, a lot of Tchaikovsky, and thinking about different arrangements,” she muses. “I covered some ground with this first record, but I know I still have much more to cover.”
Margaret Glaspy performs at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, Oct. 13; The Sinclair in Boston, Oct. 16;
And The Mercury Lounge in New York, Oct. 29.