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Song You Need to Know: Esperanza Spalding, ’12 Little Spells’

The singer/composer is rolling out one “spell” per day from her new album

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding is rolling out one song per day from her upcoming album '12 Little Spells.' Hear the title track now.

Carmen Daneshmandi

Esperanza Spalding is determined to turn her music into an event. After writing and recording her 2017 album, Exposure, during a continuous 77-hour live stream, she’s devised a similarly splashy roll-out for 12 Little Spells. This time, she’s unveiling one song per day at 12:12 p.m. EST for 12 days — each one a dedication to a specific part of the body. The first “spell,” as she calls them, is the title track. It’s dedicated to the thoracic spine – the part of the spine that runs from the neck to the abdomen.

“12 Little Spells” furthers Spalding’s genre-transcendent vision. It starts with orchestral fanfare, complete with fluttering flute, before moving into a gorgeous vocal melody. The song sounds like a luminous ballad, until a proggy groove — anchored by guitarist Matthew Stevens, bassist Burniss Travis and drummer Justin Tyson — kicks in beneath Spalding’s warm voice.

Spalding drew inspiration for the album from Reiki and time spent in a castle in Italy with friends. “When I was writing the hips [song], I would watch people, watch how the movement in their hips changed in different circumstances,” she told Vanity Fair of her mindset when writing these body-part-specific songs. “I was thinking, ‘What can I give to the hips?’”

The second track in the series, “To Tide Us Over” is out now. Spalding will accompany the project with a series of 12 pop-up shows, with details to be announced soon. The entire 12 Little Spells album is due out digitally on October 19th, with a physical release to follow in 2019. See Spalding’s website for more details.

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