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The bittersweet struggle of Cold Specks

Have you heard the bluesy, showstopping voice of Canadian singer-songwriter Cold Specks? I first did a few weeks ago, when her song ‘Winter Solistice‘ came on CBC Radio in the car. Since then I have been marveling at her album ‘I Predict a Graceful Expulsion’.

Over at Think Christian, I explore the spiritual struggle at work in her album of “doom soul.” An excerpt:

[Cold Specks’] powerhouse vocals are more blues than pop, and often mingled with strings and simple piano chords. The arrangements alone have spiritual heft by mimicking the rhythms of deeply Southern gospel and chain-gang choruses.

This is neither church music nor romantic break-up music, though. Specks is exploring a different lyrical trajectory – that of being spiritually spurned and emotionally lost. Every song is not just being sung by her but also … wrung from her. They ache with this world’s weighty frustrations and ask the hard questions that come from encountering loneliness, mortality and hypocrisy. “Lay Me Down,” for example, is a hymn-like plea for peace in the face of death. “With my last breath my soul will slip,” she rawly croons.

Her lyrics are full of Biblical allusions and imagery. “Holland” is especially rich. She speaks of “find[ing] God in the gutter.” “We are dust/and to dust we shall return,” she sings in the chorus. A few lines later, she asks: “Oh death, where is thy sting?”

Such palpably spiritual themes set Specks apart from singers such as Adele and Amy Winehouse. For some Christian listeners, her religious restlessness may add a layer of intimacy and understanding not found elsewhere in popular music.

She is unlikely to be embraced by every Christian listener, however…

Read the full piece here.

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