“Born all in the dark wormy earth, cold specks of fire, evil, lights shining in the darkness”. – James Joyce
Rowed out of the north in a skiff made from dead rose bushes by trolls and gnomes. Her cloths smelling of lamp oil, her brow stained blue from wine.A quill held in her teeth, a tear on her cheek. A young poet princess, hailing from Toronto, beautiful, black and immaculate, looking for sturdier doors to nail her poignant verse on.
24 year old Al Spx, which is not her real name, but it’s as real a name as she is prepared to offer. Her songs were written from the back of a dark wardrobe, the only place she could find solitude and hear the voices of gods long dead and a message for today, lest we forget. These verses will transport you to the deep south, to the Ozarks and the Appalachians. It is the stirring songs of chain gangs, it’s religious proto rock channeling Sister Rosa Tharpe. It’s from Harlem at the corner of Soul and Blues, where a hillbilly in a sweat stained Stetson flips a coin, over and over again to the beat of struggle and strife. It’s music as ancient as hate and as powerful as love, brought up to date packing a power and a potency and sung by a voice sharp as a razor and soft as a prayer. A voice that seems to stop time; to warp time. There is evidence that this voice may be privy to the secret of the universe, which, in case you´re wondering, is simply this: everything is connected.
It is a voice raked by the claws of Cupid, a voice rubbed raw by the philosopher´s stone. A voice marinated in potent potions, sulfur, rein deer musk and snow; bandaged with sackcloth from a southern field; warmed by the embers left down near the river after the gypsies have gone.
It is a penitent´s voice, a Sirens voice, a crust of unleavened vocal toasts - spread with smoke and the subversive sound of witches chants. She has a voice like a carpet in an old hotel, like a bad itch on the hunchback of love. It is a voice meant for pronouncing the names of ancient gods - and cataloging their sometimes hazardous charms.
In the back of that wardrobe, grit drifted into her ink bottle. In her fathers memories of East African music, the sound of the oud, her spice box exploded. as a teen ager she got rock and roll fever behind the rush of The Strokes first album, Orpheus came to her at dawn astride a transparent donkey and restrung her cheap guitar. From that moment on, she shamelessly and willingly exposed herself to the contagion of music. To the secretly religious curiosity of the traveler was added the openly foolhardy dignity of the troubadour.
She studied late into the nigh the music of Tom Waits, of Smog and the field recordings of Alan Lomax and Sam Cooke’s live album from Harlem Square Club. It all went into forming her own special brand of music; Doom Soul. And it is all that came before; gospel, folk, tin-pan alley, hill music, the blues but it is brand new, it is a genre of one and it’ll haunt you while it simultaneously delights.
This is Cold Specks’ debut album, available tomorrow, May 22nd. She is currently on tour with Great Lakes Swimmers throughout Canada and the U.S.
Check here for the venues and locales. You know it’s been a long time since you went to church, it’s about time you caught the spirit again….or it caught you.
Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved