When: Sept. 20-21, 7:30 p.m. 2016
On her terrific full-length debut, Emotions and Math (ATO), Margaret Glaspy often declares that she’s had it with no-account lovers. The singer-songwriter writes with an appealing plainspokenness: she shuts down a know-it-all suitor who offers unsolicited advice in “Situation,” while on “You and I” she overcomes feelings of sexual ecstasy or empathy (“You and I have been a mistake / I let it linger too long”). Glaspy’s moments of strength are sometimes contradicted by withering insecurities, like on “Somebody to Anybody,” where she simply wants to disappear, or on “Pins and Needles,” where the narrator messes with her essence in an attempt to score someone who seems unattainable (“Looks like I near forgot who I was to be who you’d want”). Those contradictions, however, are what make the record so effective, as Glaspy cuts to the quick, nailing the internal dialogues we have about love. Lyrics are set to deceptively simple arrangements marked by her biting, scrappy electric guitar and the roomy grooves sculpted by bassist Chris Morrissey and drummer Tim Kuhl. But the real power comes from her unfussy singing, which delivers one infectious melody after another. Subtle emotional gradations match the nuanced ambiguity of her lyrics, giving the listener the sense of being pulled this way and that way, the peregrinations of romance either budding or rotting.