Originally from Red Bluff, California, Margaret Glaspy headed to the east coast after high school. From competitive fiddle to marching band trombone, she exercised her music abilities any way she could. Her talents earned her multiple honors early on in her career, including scholarships and opportunities to refine her craft. “I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for a semester and paid for it with money I got from the YoungArts Program.” She continues, “I wasn’t able to afford school after that semester, so I snuck into workshops and master classes at the school and started to write songs more seriously.” For three years, she lived in Boston, working odd jobs whilst fine-tuning her songwriting skills.
On Margaret Glaspy’s long-awaited second album, Devotion, this highly acclaimed young artist reaffirms her status as one of the most sharp-eyed singer-songwriters of her generation while managing to fearlessly reinvent her sound. The results are as exhilarating and defy expectations.
Coming home after nearly three years on the road in support of her 2016 debut album Emotions and Math and the 2018 follow-up EP Born Yesterday, Glaspy was eager to challenge herself as an artist and start to make a new album with a clean aesthetic slate. Her bold experimentation has paid off, with tunes that are her most melodically confident, rhythmically compelling, and often incredibly romantic. The arrangements are unexpectedly lush at times, especially on the torchy “Heartbreak,” and often boast an impressive groove, on such tracks as “You’ve Got My Number” and the title song, “Devotion.” Glaspy announces her radical approach at the very start of Devotion, where digitally altered voices serve as the prelude to “Killing What Keeps Us Alive,” and she fills the album with surprising sonic touches, right up to the haunting electronics-and-voice soundscape of album closer “Consequence.”
“It has been amazing to be able to stretch out, to not define myself just by the music I make, but to follow my nose toward all the things that make me happy.” A good example being Glaspy enlisting herself in distance education through Harvard University to fulfill her dream of getting an education outside of music. “Embracing being a student has made me feel like a child again and I think that has helped to propel my music forward so much more. My brain feels happy.”
Devotion, then, is like a series of hard-earned life lessons. Glaspy’s evolution over the last few years has been both musical and personal, which makes the album that much more compelling: “I’m learning that life is painful but you take the bad with the good; that love is hard but if you love someone, you make yourself available; that life is short and it’s okay to be sincere. I’m starting to be able to write about these things and it’s a feat for myself as an artist and growth for me as a person.”