COLD SPECKS opens up for Great Lake Swimmers June 2 at the Music Hall. See listing. Rating: NNNN
It's sad that some Canadian listeners will approach Etobicoke's Cold Specks (aka Al Spx) with suspicion due to the impressive hype she's already provoked in the UK. Turns out that in this case you can believe the hype. I Predict A Graceful Expulsion is not only immediately accessible, but also rich and nuanced enough to survive repeated listens. Spx has the kind of raspy, soulful voice that sends shivers down your spine, like Adele at her best, except in this case it's less obscured by layers of production, and the songwriting is more introspective and moodier.
The melodies are largely drawn from early blues and gospel, but the instrumentation and arrangements seem just as influenced by atmospheric post-rock and chamber pop, which neatly bypasses the retro trap without dressing up her vocals with incongruous modernism. When a talent this young and inexperienced comes out of the gate with this much buzz, it's natural to want to approach with caution. But this is the real deal.
Top track: Winter Solstice