Cold Specks is the project of singer/songwriter Al Spx, and on her debut album, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, she brings together gospel, folk and undertones of the goth world to create what she calls “doom soul.” The album’s short and sweet opener, “The Mark,” is only two minutes long. But the brief offering introduces Spx’s weathered voice and delicate guitar work, and they are enough to convince you to move further into her dark world.
A few songs in comes “Winter Solstice,” incorporating piano keys and a powerful drumbeat. While the piano creates a bright element, it’s the drumming of PJ Harvey’s Rob Ellis that gives the song a sense of foreboding. Though the hollow, muted thumping somewhat blends into the background, it still manages to loom over the track like a threatening storm moving in.
The overall feeling of the record is dark, but tracks like “Hector” and “Blank Maps” offer a bit of light. Both tracks are more upbeat than the rest of the album and offer a new side to Cold Specks. While still remaining soulful, “Hector” plays on a hi-hat dance beat, complete with haunting guitar lines and a repetitive chorus. “Blank Maps” also makes use of eerie guitar sounds; however, this time, Spx adds a catchy vocal line, as she gracefully croons, “Don’t you wait on me, I’ll shoot you down/Keep your eyes closed and ear to the ground.” The record’s highlight comes midway through with “Elephant Head.” With elegant strumming patterns and backing vocals reminiscent of a church choir, the track brings the album to its peak. It is also worth noting that this is the track from which Spx got her album’s title.
I Predict A Graceful Expulsion’s close comes in the form of the somber song “Lay Me Down.” “Father, father, don’t you fear,” she sings. “The ground is what this blood knows.” The lyrics to the song seem to revolve around death, which, Spx explained in an interview, is an obsession of hers. With that, “Lay Me Down” sends the album off on a note similar to the way it began–softly, powerfully and unlike anything else.