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.