with The Julian Lage Trio
Singer and songwriter Margaret Glaspy likely surprised some of her fans with the opening track of her second album, Devotion, when it came out in 2020. On that song, “Killing What Keeps Us Alive,” the first singing we hear is fed through a vocoder, and although the effect quickly vanishes, the largely electronic setting—from synth beds to electronic beats—carries on. After the lean, direct arrangements on her 2016 debut album the move toward fizzier, more mainstream production felt abrupt, but Glaspy’s songwriting acumen remained impressive.
As Rolling Stone wrote of the recording, “Glaspy doesn’t tear down so much as expand and build upon the warm Seventies folk-rock of her wonderful 2016 debut Emotions and Math, incorporating drum loops and processed vocals into an effortless mix of swooping indie-pop, industrial noise, and Ben Folds-piano sing-alongs.” Indeed, on tunes like the hook-filled “Without Him,” which rides masterfully over a descending unison line voiced on bass and piano, or the atmospheric mid-tempo split-up tune “Heartbreak,” with its jazzy phrasing, Glaspy’s mastery can’t be muted by contemporary production values.
The versatile jazz guitarist Julian Lage was credited as production manager on Glaspy’s debut album, and in 2020 he became her husband. He wasn’t involved in the follow-up, which was produced by Tyler Chester, but it seems certain he was watching from the sidelines. For this special performance he’ll help recast Glaspy’s songs in a radically different setting, bringing his superb trio with drummer Dave King and bassist Jorge Roeder to accompany her catchy tunes about romantic conflict, bringing the sort of empathy the average hired gun would seem incapable of replicating.