Margaret Glaspy - Devotion Music Album Reviews

Without the self-assurance of her debut, the New York songwriter’s second full-length is an album in search of an identity.

Margaret Glaspy’s 2016 debut Emotions & Math was effective and confident blues-rock, grounded in the strains of folk, and elevated by a bombastic Shawn Everett mix. Two years later, her Born Yesterday EP adopted a stripped-back live sound, allowing her songs to come together regardless of arrangement. After a brief hiatus, she reconvened with producer Tyler Chester and traded guitars for Ableton, becoming the latest folk musician to embrace electronics. But reinventions do not guarantee a satisfying record. Without the self-assurance of her debut, Glaspy’s follow-up, Devotion, is an album in search of an identity. Part lighthearted synth-pop, part mild-mannered MOR pop, it’s too slight to endanger a promising career but too bland to be an interesting misfire.

With Devotion, Glaspy trades swagger for sincerity, risking corniness for the sake of honest expression. It should feel liberating—and writing it likely did—but on record it’s either unimaginative or baffling. With the exception of “You Amaze Me,” buried towards the end of the record, Glaspy strays away from the favorable Elliott Smith comparisons of her debut. As Devotion attempts to push in new directions, misguided stylistic choices turn into distractions. When Glaspy opens “Killing What Keeps Us Alive” with a garbled vocoder, it only recalls the sound Imogen Heap perfected 15 years ago.

Nothing else is equally jarring, but the stylistic missteps continue throughout. “What’s the Point” leads with a dubstep synth before delving into an aimless imitation of John Congleton’s crunchy, flanged productions. Ballads like “Young Love” and “Without Him” are closer to Sara Bareilles territory, without the benefit of Bareilles’ extroversion and big choruses. Title track “Devotion” veers so far into adult-contemporary R&B that it begins to resemble Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.” When Glaspy and Chester do land on a memorable, sinuous groove with “You’ve Got My Number,” the song stumbles over ungainly lyrics like, “And if I had to choose just a few words to summarize you/‘Gorgeous’ and ‘true’ wouldn’t surprise you.”

The simplistic couplets and labored aphorisms are the record’s biggest disappointment. Glaspy’s penchant for stringing together idioms turns whole verses into mush: “They say two halves make a whole/But I am half empty and you are half full,” she proclaims on “Without Him.” On the lone rocker “So Wrong It’s Right,” a series of dog puns abruptly turns maudlin: “Tonight I’m off the leash, running wild and free/And you just so happen to be right next to me.” Glaspy’s wordplay sometimes leaned on “fish in the sea”-style clichés in the past, but here the folksy turns of phrase become overwhelming. The preciousness muddles her ideas, like the non-dichotomy posed by “Stay With Me”: “When it all shakes down/Who’s the clown and who’s the savior?”

Devotion is not a disaster, but the chasm between ambition and execution feels vast. The new ideas are ill-fitting, when they’re not derivative from the start. Beneath the processing, the album’s best moments sound oddly like a less polished version of Emotions & Math. Even “You Amaze Me,” a lovely intimate acoustic number, feels like a lesser “Somebody to Anybody,” a lovely intimate acoustic number from the last album. Otherwise, little on this record works with Glaspy’s strengths as a songwriter—or, due to the change in instrumentation, as a musician. There are still glimpses of her usual frank, heartfelt songwriting on Devotion, but they’re not worth seeking out in a package this dull.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Margaret Glaspy - Devotion Music Album Reviews Margaret Glaspy - Devotion Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 04, 2020 Rating: 5


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