Release Date: Sep 22, 2017
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Cold Specks’ triumphant Neuroplasticity, released in 2014, featured big drums, electric guitar riffs and varying instrumentation all unifying to enhance Hussein’s powerful presence. One would think that deconstructing the sound towards a more intimate experience would allow her voice to shine through with even greater affect, yet alas this is simply not the case - Fool’s Paradise is proof that sometimes the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Hussein’s vocal range seems content to stay at ease, as is evident among the opening tracks which roll into each other with the same ebb and flow.
After two albums, Cold Specks, the stage name used by Canadian singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein, still felt like a talent in search of a sound. Fool's Paradise doesn't do much to alter this situation, but it does allow Hussein to showcase the reason her embryonic style remains worth sticking with. It comes down to her voice, an instrument equally at home subtly altering the feel of a line, or blasting emotional punchlines.
Anybody familiar with Ladan Hussein’s debut as Cold Specks, 2014’s ‘Neuroplasticity’, might wonder whether this follow-up might come with its own political narrative and a little bit of a state-of-the-world address, not least because the press quickly characterised that first LP as ‘doom soul’ which, given the political turmoil that’s occurred in the intervening years, sounds as if it’d suit 2017 down the ground. In actual fact, ‘Fool’s Paradise’ is both a lighter listen than its predecessor and one that focuses its storytelling on a considerably more abstract concept, with the album inspired in part by the story of Araweelo, a Somali queen and mythical figure said to have castrated male enemies. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a straightforward affair, though; Ladan is a coyer songwriter than that and, instead, the thematic through line seems to be one of self-discovery and the search for psychological well-being, as well as an understanding of her roots.