COLD SPECKS: I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Arts & Crafts
Al Spx started showing up on stages in the T.Dot last year behind major hype and packing a soulful, idiosyncratic vocal style to back it up. This was well in advance of the retro soul revival currently underway and the artists now known as Cold Specks caused a major splash with her hard to pin down and often raw style.
Simultaneously she could sound old time rickety and blues gal from outer space; she could reconcile the beautiful with the strident, as brilliantly demonstrated on “Steady”.
Nor does the songwriting lack in ambition or scope. From the intimate and soul bearing to the anthemic and soul searing, the is the music of intent.“”Holland” has a subtext relevant to the black experience in Europe, where Cold Specks made its initial impact, “Blank Maps’’ with its refrain of “I am, I am/A goddamn believer” is a grabber, anthemic one moment, down to the ground the next, “Winter Solistice” weaves Gospel into a modernist soul setting.
She’s a skiiled lyricist, adept at layering unstated meanings with highly evocative imagery but it’s the voice that makes it all happen. A singular thing with few contemporary reference points, it echoes all the way to the Delta and Odetta, Leadbelly and “Mississippi Goddam” seen through a modernist, indie prism. Or to put it another way, both Feist and Nick Cave are gonna love this.
Call it Goth Soul and you’re not far off the mark.