Margaret Glaspy

by | Aug 3, 2012 | Interviews and Features

Brooklyn Songstress Fuses Classic Jazz and Modern Indie

GENRE: Alt-Jazz
HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Finding beauty where jazz and folk coincide.

Listening to Margaret Glaspy’s music, there are some obvious entry points to her influences. She’s got a voice made for jazz standards, and it’s no surprise that she often covers “I’d Rather Go Blind” in her set, and nails it at that. Her songs (written more like poems and many of them without a chorus) feel like B-sides to Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon days. Glaspy could also easily be compared to someone like Feist, who she lists as both a favorite and inspiration. But what makes Glaspy special, what makes her stand out from the amalgam of indie artists coming out of the Brooklyn scene, is that these and other influences don’t serve as tracing paper, or sources from which to imitate.

Rather, Glaspy’s interested in intersections, in the overlap between Joan Baez and Etta Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill, in those in-between spaces where music exists beyond genre and definition and is, instead, something elevated. That’s the space she creates her songs in, and that’s exactly what makes them worth listening to and revisiting. Another way to say it: These songs matter.

Glaspy is interested in isolation, and so many of her songs are imbued with a sense of longing that never feels trite or petulant, a feat for any songwriter. In a song like “Fools Looking After Me,” with a line like, “I cried/I shook/I waited/Oh, Lord I wanna be simple but I’m complicated,” the listener comes to appreciate what is so unique about Glaspy: her keen, and perhaps peerless, understanding of the human condition. “I’m pretty familiar with the state of alone,” Glaspy says. “I’m just starting to understand that it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I’ve convinced myself that alone is my superpower.” And so it only makes sense that her music is magic.

photo by Jon Strymish