About a year ago I got an email from Al Spx with a link to “Holland”, the haunting and arresting debut song from Cold Specks, her latest musical project. She told me she was from Etobicoke, currently living in London, England, and that she thought I might like the song. Like was an understatement. There was little else in the email, leaving more questions than answers along with an indelible first impression.
I’ve had time to absorb I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, Cold Specks’ much anticipated debut, and can safely say that those first impressions were not misleading. Spx’s voice is so sharp it can pierce skin. On “Winter Solstice” she hits notes that reverberate down my spine, inducing shivers. The extended gestation of these songs has been worth the wait; what we have here are 11 fully-formed and complete songs that don’t battle with each other for attention. From the bluesy swagger of “When the City Lights Dim” to the spiritual proclamations of “Blank Maps” and “Steady”, I Predict… flows from musical influence to influence with nary a note out of place or superfluous affectation. She’ll undeniably be cross-examined because of the hype surrounding her sudden rise to notoriety, but Al Spx is the real deal. Compare her to Adele and Amy Winehouse if you have to (and many will), but don’t lump her in with the lot of them. She deserves to be heard and experienced on her own terms. “I am a goddamn believer,” she trumpets on “Blank Maps”, as if she’s surreptitiously answering all those questions I had a year ago about who this mysterious woman is, while at the same time silencing the naysayers. One listen to this record, and you’ll be a believer, too.
I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is released today on Arts & Crafts.
Tags: Cold Specks