If the album title makes you think of birth, it should. And not just any type of birth- a birth with no complications- a beautiful birth. This metaphor can easily be applied to Al Spx, or Cold Specks as we have come to know her. I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is Spx’s way of coming into the world, and the birth of Cold Specks is something the world should rejoice about.
I realize I almost sound like I’m welcoming in a messiah or something, but that’s how blown away I am by Cold Specks every time I listen. In theory, emotional acoustic songs and horn arrangements are something heard 1000 times before. But one thing has not been done 1000 times before, and that is Spx’s voice.
It was back in December when Cold Specks released “Holland,” a beautiful number that showed off what we could expect from this album. The track is present right in the album’s middle. Before that you’ll be treated to songs like “When The City Lights Dim,” a track which makes a reference to the CN Tower. It shows that while Spx may have been living in London, England for a long time, she hasn’t forgotten her roots.
There’s also “Heavy Hands,” a song that shows off the powerful horn section that supports Spx. She also does a little call and response as she sings “fire away” and is answered by a trumpet blast. “The Mark” is a stunning opener, with Spx strumming an acoustic guitar along with her emotive vocals. “Take my body home,” Spx repeats, a line that might haunt me for some time.
“Elephant Head” is a complex song, changing melodies several times. It makes another explicit reference to Toronto- it names four subway stops in a row “Bathurst, Spadina, St. George and Bay” and repeats the album title several times.
You’ll be treated to a little bit of Spx’s a cappella singing in “Send Your Youth,” which shows that she doesn’t need instruments to give you the chills.
“Steady” is a song rich with meaning, as Spx asks “What will it take for these bones to crack?” As the song builds up a powerful crescendo, the line “We have caught fire” stands out, followed by some very wild horns at the end.
The album ends with “Lay Me Down,” a title that seems to signify the end of the life cycle. It’s an appropriately solemn end, but it’s a stellar number.
Put simply, a voice this exciting has not been present in music for some time. Spx seems to have a quiet offstage persona, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there isn’t something ferociously powerful. Without a doubt, this is one of the best albums of the year.
The album is available today via Arts & Crafts, so you should easily be able to find it at your local record store or on iTunes.
Top Tracks: All of them
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) *swoop*