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On the radar: Margaret Glaspy

Singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy grew up with guitars in the house - starting on the fiddle, before the lure of pop and rock music drew the Californian/New Yorker to the dark-side and the six-string.

“I’ve always been a huge Joni Mitchell fan, a big Rolling Stones fan,” she’s tells us. “And I really turned into a massive Elliot Smith fan. I really adored the way he played rhythm guitar and all of the chord changes and his harmonic preferences are really brilliant.”

Emotions And Math, gets its hooks into you early, summoning subtle blues lick detours from Liz Phair-esque songcraft

Glaspy’s own playing takes some cues from Smith in its shady sense of low-register minimalist melody, not to mention a little bit of The Stones’ bluesy ramble - all overlaid with a wavering, raspy vocal that pitches in and out of falsetto. Her recent debut album, Emotions And Math, gets its hooks into you early, summoning subtle blues lick detours from Liz Phair-esque songcraft.

Aesthetic players

“My favourite players all have an aesthetic,” she explains. “Overall there’s a real sound there that isn’t just about the notes they’re playing, but a textural quality and a sonic approach that’s specific for all of those players that I really appreciate.”

Margaret’s aim tonally is for something “organic and also distressed at the same time” with the minimal amount of pedals. A ’59 Deluxe Reverb (for big gigs), paired with her T-style Danocaster Single Cut are the familiar keys to the sound, but their use is oddly off-kilter - unorthodox, even. Take title track Emotions And Math, in which the solo of a predominantly electric track is played on the low E-string of an acoustic.

“That I was quite excited about,” she confesses. “Less because it was some fancy lick and more because of how effective it was. Electric guitar is quite smooth when it’s clean, but with acoustic, I feel like it can be more biting - you’re just literally hitting things on the string.” Who needs more than that?

(Image credit: Ebru Yildiz)
  • For fans of: Liz Phair, Elliot Smith
  • Hear: Emotions And Math

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.

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