“You’ve always made my head spin more than the whiskey on our lips” – from “When Winter’s Over”
Certain records are made to play incessantly because they call to mind so many moods and mindsets. The debut record by Nashville’s Torres (stage name of Mackenzie Scott) is just that sort of record. At once haunting, soothing, thought-provoking, and bone-chilling, Torres’ self titled debut has the sort of emotional and songwriting depth that will keep you returning with great frequency and unraveling new layers and reactions with each repeat visit. It will also call to mind memories of yesteryear as the albums musical palette and themes will resonate with decisions and recriminations we all have.
Introduced to Scott’s music through the ever wise/prescient suggestion of my friend PG, I instantly became entranced by the intoxicating track “Honey” (see below), which recalls an early Beth Orton in the throes of her folk electronica hey days (see Trailer Park, Central Reservation). Notice the sparse guitar line and background drone that builds throughout the song, at once recalling a Cowboy Western and any abandoned American highway, which slowly builds in intensity and volume throughout until it culminates in an almost tornado-like sonic explosion (and try not to remember the Chemical Brothers‘ “Where Do I Begin” with Orton’s morning-after narrative).
Torres treads comfortably through a hybrid of folk and country rock with dexterous skill, the music never overwhelms but the lyrics and imagery are arresting. “Jealousy and I” recounts an all-too-familiar tale of remorse and obsession with brutal twelve-step bittersweet self-awareness. Starting with a Dinosaur Jr.-like fuzz riddled guitar riff (that recurs throughout!), “When Winter’s Over” is an aggressive lover’s yell, filled with tinges of self-preservation and yearning. But, the album’s most arresting track is the confessional piece “Moon & Back”, the tale of a mother explaining and recounting regrets of having given her child away. Despite the idea and theme, the song doesn’t resonate with sadness and abandon but draws strength from the narrator’s power to accept the difficult nature of her decisions.
All of this is done with a production and confessional style of song craft reminiscent of early Cat Power and Tori Amos: sparse and barebones, vocals forward and insides all exposed. It is emotionally stomach churning like Angel Olsen’s and Sharon Van Etten’s records of the year past – challenging and complex storytelling to which we can relate or empathize. But it is also filled with the brutal honesty we all need to embrace to mature and grow. I look forward to countless evenings and walk with Torres’s music and the revelations it will bring.
Do yourself a favor and spend some time with this brilliant record…
listen to Torres’s– Torres.
Referenced artists (and corresponding records)