Cold Specks – I Predict a Graceful Expulsion

May 23, 2012 No comments
Written by Dustin Cordeiro

★★★★½

As diverse and interesting a city Toronto is, referencing it in a song can usually come off as laughable (unless, of course, you’re Drake). Let’s face it; even if it is occasionally referred to as “a smaller New York City,” Toronto’s landmarks will never have that same roll-off-the-tongue coolness as the Empire State Building or Central Park in the spring time. But that doesn’t stop 24 year-old “doom soul” chanteuse, Al Spx – who performs as Cold Specks – from littering her debut album, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, with as many hometown references as her heart desires. And even with her raw and tarnished Southern-folk sound, she’s able to pull it off.

“The C.N. Tower will glow into me,” Spx croons in the opening lines of “When the City Lights Dim,” granting the eminent landmark a new delicate spirit. The worn intensity of Cold Specks’ sound is centered on Spx?s deep and harrowing voice, which sounds matured beyond her years despite her lack of professional training. Spx?s natural ability shines through on such tracks as “Blank Maps” and “Holland,” which features the chilling line, “and to dust we’ll all return,” sung accapella just before a thumping drum beat crashes through, breathing new life into the mellow song.

As calming and sometimes melancholy as Cold Specks’ sound is, it never veers into bleak territory. The bare-bones instrumentation always compliments Spx?s haunting vocals, pushing them to the forefront of each song as the most evocative force of their sound. And with Spx?s prowess, it doesn’t matter that when she sings the line “Bathurst, Spadina, St. George and Bay,” she’s just naming off popular TTC tops, because Spx?s voice tells its own story.

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