Cold Specks is the professional moniker of 24-year-old songwriter Al Spx (which isn’t her real name either). Canadian born and bred, Brits know her better. Last spring, she gained attention there when her single, Holland, landed her a spot on the BBC music program Later… With Jools Holland. Perhaps closest to the definition of an overnight success, her first CD was released after her hyperbolic emergence on the British music scene; this after a stint in college prior to dropping out to embark on a series of Joe jobs – door-to-door knife sales, work at a meat packing plant and a call centre, then under-the-radar performances as an earthy folkie called Basket of Figs.
Her current producer, whose brother was given her demos a couple of years ago, aimed to have her stand out from other Canadian folk artists, so polished her song sketches into a blue-silver gloom and hue. Her haunting music is marked by elegantly stylized field hollers and deep, despairing blues, or “doom-soul,” as she calls it. Her debut album includes scriptural allusions, but avoids typical gospel music backings. It’s music with the raw urgency of an old-time blues singer with an indie folk spirit, sung in a compelling dark alto. It is both minimalist and layered, conveying dread and hopeful innocence, so it slides like ice down your spine to fill your head with quiet fire.