Cold Specks

I Predict a Graceful Expulsion

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Born in Canada, based in England, and wielding a bold, weary, and war-torn voice that falls somewhere between Mahalia Jackson and Stevie Nicks, self-proclaimed "doom soul" singer/songwriter Al Spx (Cold Specks) sounds like she just stepped out of an old Dust Bowl-era photograph and into a brand-new Depression. Her Mute Records debut, the appropriately titled I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, straddles both periods, weaving a somber web of modern indie folk woe built atop a foundation of weathered gospel and blues. Slow, sure, and relentlessly intimate -- imagine if Antony and the Johnsons had hailed from America's Deep South instead of West Sussex -- Spx approaches love, faith, hope, and guilt with both youthful angst and the cool ambivalence of Nick Cave, leaning toward the light of redemption, while keeping one hand out for the flames to lick. She may be floundering, but with each act of desperation she moves closer to the source, whatever it may be, and on standout cuts like "Winter Solstice," "Send Your Youth," and "Holland," she displays an integrity that belies her perceived lack of surefootedness. It's a slow burn, and one that could have benefited from an occasional ray of sun (or tempo shift), but Spx and company never sound unfocused. I Predict a Graceful Expulsion feels like a late round in a long fight, and while it may not deliver a knockout punch, it most certainly deserves the win.

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