Hailing from Toronto, singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein records under the name Cold Specks. I first became aware of her via Moby who featured Cold Specks on vocals for two songs on his 2013 album Innocents, including that album's first single "A Case For Shame". I would have loved her voice on every track on that album but thankfully, Hussein has albums of her own to handle that need.
Fool's Paradise is her third full length, coming three years after 2014's Neuroplasticity. As a fan of artists like Lianne La Havas and Denai Moore, it's no surprise Cold Specks connects with me. In fact, Moore's 2015 release Elsewhere was the first thing that came to mind as I listened to Fool's Paradise. It's soulful music, but rather sparse and electronic at the same time, all held together by Hussein's smoky wonder of a voice. Don't look for heavy beats or overly orchestrated songs here, everything is delicately restrained to the music's benefit.
Given that description it should come as no surprise that there isn't much in the way of dance music or uptempo tracks here. Atmospheric ballads and lean, mid-tempo songs are in abundance with Hussein's lyrics, vocals and melodies at the center. Not to be missed are the opening title cut and "Wild Card" which follows with layered vocals and a bouncy bass line. "Ancient Habits" is the prettiest of the ballads on the album, while the stuttering "Rupture" is a dark, futuristic beat-laden highlight. Even on the darker, harder-edged material there is a gorgeous melody within the song, a gift Cold Specks displays across all ten tracks. At a concise 37 minutes, there is no room for throwaway tracks, Fool's Paradise is a gem all the way through.
Favorite tracks: "Rupture", "Wild Card", "Ancient Habits", "Fool's Paradise"
Fool's Paradise was released September 22nd, 2017 on the Arts & Crafts label.