When: Thu., Nov. 29, 9 p.m. 2012
London-based singer-songwriter Al Spx (aka Cold Specks) does for soul what the XX has done for R&B: her stripped-down songs combine melancholy melody and chilly, gothic production that practically uses reverb as another instrument, and they're often most powerful when Spx lets only a few notes glide past at a time. Sometimes it sounds as though Spx wrote the songs on her 2012 debut, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (Mute), as a cappella numbers, then carefully arranged their nimble, low-key guitars, slowly swelling piano parts, and minimal horns, drums, and bass around her sorrowful voice. When they begin, "Blank Maps" and "When the City Lights Dim" sound like they were recorded in a frigid cave, but Spx's earthy, velvety singing fills those barren spaces as confidently as it dominates the tunes' relatively bustling climaxes—and I'm pretty sure it'd hold up to an old-school big-band soul sound too. —Leor Galil Esta Vivo opens.