Ever since we first heard Torres’ self-titled debut LP, we’ve been entranced by the music of Mackenzie Scott. The New York via Nashville songwriter created a gorgeous, heartstopping record with Torres, which earned it a spot in one of our top records of that year. This week, Torres releases Sprinter, her second LP, and it’s one of the most powerful experiences of the year so far.
Those familiar with Torres’ first record will be lulled into a false sense of security, as the first 45 seconds of the record is just Scott singing over some muted guitar. But then “Strange Hellos” kicks into gear with heavy guitar, heavy drumming, and an incredible guitar solo. While Scott did rock quite a bit on Torres, the production of the rocking tracks on Sprinter help them stand out. The next track, “New Skin” is one Scott worked on with Sharon Van Etten and The War On Drugs for the Shaking Through series. And while Van Etten and The War On Drugs are not on the Sprinter version of the track, their spirit can be felt in the harmonies and killer guitar work. Then you have the unnerving track “Son, You Are No Island”, which features dissonant harmonies and a strange ending, along with some of the most interesting lyrics on the record.
“A Proper Polish Welcome” is almost exactly what one would have expected a follow-up to Torres to sound like. It’s a beautiful, heartwrenching track, with a lot of water based imagery, singing of Poseidon, as well as the refrain “I wish I was the sea”. The title track, “Sprinter” is one of Scott’s best tracks, vocally, she shows a kickass range of emotion with her voice, and even throws her voice through some distortion, before kicking into a stunning guitar solo. On “Cowboy Guilt”, a track in which she references her southern upbringing, Scott gets weird with her instrumentation, featuring some unique guitar effects and some sampled sounds added in. On “Ferris Wheel”, Scott channels her previously epic tracks like “Waterfall” from Torres, and creates a 7 minute epic that is one of the most beautiful tracks you’ll hear this year. “Harshest Light” is another rocker with sampled sounds which leads into the beautiful closer, “The Exchange”. “The Exchange” features just Scott singing over acoustic guitar, most likely recorded in one-take, with ambient sound including birds, and the sound of Scott exhaling at the end before she hits stop on the recorder.
On “Sprinter”, Torres makes a huge shift towards a much heavier sound. It’s a heavy record, both musically and lyrically, and thanks to the production by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey) and Adrian Utley (Portishead), it’s one of the most incredible sounding records of the year. Scott’s music is very much relatable, she sings of family, religion, life, and love. She’s gotten more aggressive with her sound, but it just feels natural, Scott is unrestrained, and comfortably herself on “Sprinter”, and that makes “Sprinter” a record with truly wide appeal.
Featured Image by Shawn Brackbill
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