Album Review // MARGARET GLASPY ‘Devotion’
Margaret Glaspy’s new album, Devotion, is the revision of an old mindset amid evolved instrumentation and synth-inspired reflections that bares a mental shift and essential growth within her work.
Margaret Glaspy’s debut album, Emotions And Math, explored the polarizing idea of destructive impulses with raw empathy and compassion; her second LP, Devotion, shifts her perspective into a more evolved topic: the ardent meaning of love, attraction, and self-assurance. “It’s about letting love in even when you don’t know what will happen when you do,” says Glaspy. “It’s about devoting your heart to someone or something, against all odds.” In Devotion, Glaspy invites new sonic instrumentation: enchanting sounds, rich vocals, swaggering synthesizers, and fully dimensional electronic beats to help fabricate a collection of altered love songs in a time of chaos.
The project starts with the opening track, Killing What Keeps Us Alive, which wasn’t written for an apocalypse yet ironically symbolizes just that. The first fifteen seconds bring forth the evolution of her sound – with a swollen synth and an overused vocoder – to portray a baneful yet romantic thought. Our time on earth may be brief but our love doesn’t have to be. As her metallic yet wholesome voice sings out: “We keep living as we’ll never die / And we keep killing what keeps us alive”. The track becomes Glaspy’s conscious thought between the critical state of our home and the ability to fall in love in the midst of it all. It perfectly sets the tone of Devotion: not to dwell on the destruction but instead forging something new from the ashes.
Glaspy becomes an experimental storyteller as each track spills over into the next becoming a messy, vocalized vow to a special beau. Young Love incorporates a robotic synth-guitar hybrid with dramatized insights: “I wanna breathe, live, love, and die with you,” reminding us of the habitual yet false belief that first loves become eternal loves. As the robotic undertones transform into glitchy electric synths and gurgling beats in You Got My Number, Glaspy performs the sensual game of cat and mouse. As she blurts out: “If you need anything else from me / You’ve got my number,” Glaspy shines a light on the subtle chase that coincides with new romantic encounters. From the seductive tone of You Got My Number it fastly evolves into the rock anthem of the project, So Wrong It’s Right, where Glaspy consciously involves distant, scattered synths with a bouncy drum progression and a vocally, repetitive argument, “Oh it feels so wrong that it feels right”. A temptation that some face with amorous relationships. Glaspy’s new project shows growth in the synth-heavy performances and robotic vocal filters yet still reminisce in the simple ballads that started her journey.
With the tenuous arrangement of minimalist melodies in You Amaze Me, Devotion, and Vicious, we are comforted in the realization that Glaspy hasn’t gone far from herself. The intimate vocals drowning in softness partnered by simple acoustic riffs form a bond that only successful love songs possess. As she soothingly sings in the title track, Devotion, “Cause baby I’m on your side / When I give you a piece of my mind / It’s a sign of my devotion,” I can only find myself rocking back and forth in contentment. For years, Glaspy’s work has resided in presence and simplicity and now brings a whole new definition to the surface.
Devotion is an interpretation of contrasts: sonically evolved synths versus gentle vocals and instrumentation. From the fluffiness of Young Love to the edgy juxtaposition of booming electronics in What’s The Point, she teaches us how to be the best of both worlds.
The new project doesn’t strip Glaspy’s old sonic habits instead it builds and expands upon the warm sonic palette that started it all. She reminds us of the beauty that can come with dueling tones and how two opposites can merge into a cohesive design.