By Ross Currie
There’s something to be said about the quiet confidence that surrounded Cold Specks 2012 release I Predict A Graceful Expulsion. A record that saw Etobicoke, Ontario native Al Spx blending together the blues and gospel into a soulful take on folk music for this day and age. Before all this, Spx packed her bags and took off for the big lights of London, England. It was here where she settled into new creative territory with the help of her producer/manager Jim Anderson and percussionist/arranger Rob Ellis. With a collection of musicians assembled, it was here that the Cold Specks sound began to take shape. The album was recorded at the famed Monnow Valley Studios in Monmouth, Wales where the Welsh country setting creeps into the sound.
Following the release of her first single, Cold Specks was able to gain a larger audience with her performance of “Holland” on BBC’s Later With Jools Holland. Allowing fans a glimpse into the honest, down-home approach to her songs.
I recently spoke to the soft-spoken songstress over the phone from Montreal, where she is currently in the studio recording her new record. “The only thing I want to get across is some good singing and some good songs,” says Spx in a reserved tone. This restrain seems to be a positive attribute to her sound, allowing the words themselves to be the central focus point for her music, separate from any fame or fortune. This genuine approach to her music is something that fans come to expect from her songs.
Any fan of Cold Specks probably won’t hesitate to throw around the title “doom-soul” when describing her music, something that Spx has been trying to shake ever since. “It was a really bad joke that caught on and I just want it to die already,” says Spx. With the help of her fans and the media, we can only hope that the term will find itself in the bone-yard with the other meaningless genre associations.
Spx has recently collaborated with Moby on his new record Innocents, which is set for release on October 1 on Arts & Crafts. Lending her voice on two tracks, “Tell Me” and the single, “A Case For Shame.” “We seemed to really click,” says Spx, “I’ve always sort of written on my own and on my own terms. It was nice to be able to receive a whole complete track and attempt to create something on top of it… I’m really pleased with the work we’ve done.”
I spoke to Spx on her first day of recording for her new record in Montreal, where she will be recording until the end of September. “I’m hoping to have the record out early next year,” says Spx, who seems eager to get the record out as soon as she can. “I don’t really want to have a long gap in between when the record is finished and when it comes out,” says Spx. “Only because having more time with songs, leads to me getting bored with them,” she adds, which is good news for fans that have been waiting for new Cold Specks material.
It doesn’t appear that Al Spx has let any fame get in the way of her ambitions as an accomplished singer-songwriter. She seems poised to carry on creating art that’s honest, soulful and heart-felt, staying true to the traditions that influenced the Cold Specks sound. She lets her art speak for itself, or rather, she’ll sing it softly with every ounce of her soul.