Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall the with the release of her first two critically applauded and commercial successful albums, 2012’s I Predict A Graceful Expulsion! and 2015’s Neuroplasticiy, the Canadian-Somali, Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter Ladan Hussein and her recording project Cold Specks received national and international attention; in fact, both albums received Polaris Music Prize nominations and a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, with the release of Graceful Expulsion! And in between writing, recording and touring, Hussein collaborated with Moby, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, Swans and others.
Up until recently, two years had passed since I had last written about Hussein but as it turns out, the renowned singer/songwriter had been busy. After touring throughout 2015 and 2016 to support Neuroplasticity, Hussein returned back to home to Toronto, where she began working on her third full-length album, Fools Paradise, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through renowned Canadian indie label, Arts & Crafts Records. As you may recall earlier this summer, I wrote about Fools Paradise’s first single “Wild Card,” a slow-burning and hauntingly atmospheric song, largely inspired by the refugee experience. There was a man in my family’s store, a new refugee, who had travelled from Somalia to Canada. By water and by foot he had travelled half way around the world to establish a better life for himself and his family who were still at home,” Hussein explains. “My mother had never met him before. He was a complete stranger from a familiar place. She took him to a local restaurant, fed him and found him somewhere to stay. I was astonished by her selflessness and kept humming ‘I’ll be there for you. Don’t know why’.”
Fool’s Paradise’s second and latest single, album tittle track reveals that the new album consists of what may arguably be her most personal work to date, as the song — and in turn, the album — finds her exploring her identity as a Somali-Canadian and as a black woman, while simultaneously focusing on existing through difficult times. And while the new single further cements her reputation for crafting moody, slow-burning pop, it’s a subtle yet decided change in songwriting approach as the song’s narrator expresses an aching longing and vulnerability; but just under the surface is a steely resolve to survive and thrive.