The deep husky voice of Al Spx (a.k.a. Cold Specks
) is so arresting that when Jools Holland heard it, he invited her to be on his U.K. TV show before she’d even cut her first album. The 26-year-old Etobicoke, Ont., native’s music, self-described as “doom soul,” has been at the top of critics’ lists ever since. She’s played Toronto’s famed Massey Hall four times and heads out on a European tour this month to promote her second album, Neuroplasticity
, released August 26. “My first record was gloomy; it was written about a very real time in my life, but when I started touring, it was over and I felt like a bit of a fraud. With this album I decided to be more playful. Now I enjoy my live performances so much more.”
Why we love her: She’s the opposite of a manufactured pop star and has created a totally new, goosebumps-inducing sound.
Inspiration: “I started writing the record in an isolated cottage just outside Glastonbury, U.K. There’s this 12th-century church on top of a hill, and it attracts a lot of hippies. You can’t buy socks in the town, but you can find crystals and cauldrons. My new songs reflect that weird atmosphere.”
Dream collaboration: “I would love to duet with David Bowie.”