Margaret Glaspy’s newest album Echo The Diamond is quickly becoming one of my favorites to listen to right now. For her third album, the Brooklyn musician abandons the use of synthesizers and intricate arrangements featured in her previous LP. Instead, she chose an indie rock approach and wrote songs as quickly as the emotions that inspired them. The album allows for a closer listen to her spellbinding voice and conversational lyrics. The minimalistic instrumentation allows the listener to focus on the songwriting and the vibrant instrumentals that interplay. The album was produced by Glaspy and her husband, Julian Lage who’s a jazz guitarist and composer in his own right. The album features an accomplished lineup of accompanists including Dave King (drummer for The Bad Plus) and Chris Morrissey (bass player for Mason Jennings and Andrew Bird).
“Act Natural”: I think this song, with the beginning a lone catchy electric guitar melody, is a fun one to open the album up with. The songwriting is equally as playful as the instrumentation, a description of experiencing self-doubt when encountering someone truly exceptional.
“Get Back” continues the edgy alt-pop sound, but it’s laid back. In the lyrics we find reminiscing on a childhood that was privileged but lonely. The theme is that you can have everything, but it’s nothing.
“Female Brain”: This song has an abnormal rhythmic pattern/cadence and is a welcomed wild card in the mix. “Get Back” had the phrase Sticks and Stones and this one has the phrase Stones and Sticks, so it’s an interesting call back to the last song. I would say overall the lyrics have feminist themes, or it hints at aspects of misogyny.
“Irish Goodbye”: This song is a favorite of mine on the album. Its stand-out quality is probably how the melody goes with the guitar. It’s a narrative song that follows the storyline of a scene at a party from different perspectives.
“I Didn’t Think So”: I really like the first verse; You get mad about your dreams and / Rip me at the seams like a rag doll / And I get both of my feet wet / Crossing the line like a foul ball. It’s filled with common phrases throughout. This song seems to be a chill change of pace until it reaches the chorus. It’s a really dynamic song, even though it’s just guitar and drums.
“Memories”: This song really stands out to me on the album and is one I continue to revisit. Margaret recounts that this song was the most difficult to record. She couldn’t get through the song in one take. In a statement, she said “it was a level of vulnerability I’d never gotten on record, and it holds a special place in my heart now. Even though it’s about a very specific loss for me, it seems to ricochet in different ways for anyone who hears it.”
“Turn The Engine”: This song marks the beginning of the more mellow, melancholy end of the album. The transition to the chorus has absolutely heartbreaking flips in her voice; it’s a really beautiful vocal performance.
“Hammer and the Nail”: This song immediately leans into a jazz-pop sound, more so than the other songs on the album. I think this melody stands out as the jazziest. It reminded me of Norah Jones.
“My Eyes”: This song is seemingly about insecurity and reassurance in a relationship. She addresses someone who is emotionally distant or out of touch with their feelings. Expressing a desire for a more intimate connection.
“People Who Talk” is a mellow end to a dynamic range of emotions throughout the album, it brings feelings of tranquility. It’s full of imagery of common neighborhood wildlife. It’s easy to see the beauty in everyday things when you slow down and listen.
Echo The Diamond is a spare and spiky collection of broadly rooted songs. Full of nuanced moments, with equal parts emotionality and intelligence. Echo The Diamond is the result of Margaret adhering to a quick songwriting process. She notes that “if I sit down with a guitar for about 15 minutes, I usually have a song at the end.” A process meant to preserve and amplify her unfettered expression and vulnerability. “I’m excited to make music that doesn’t try to manipulate the listener into wishing for things to be any different from what they are. Ideally, I want my songs to reveal life for what it is, and to show that it’s that way for everyone.”
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