Torres at DC9

The Nashville singer/songwriter act Torres performs at DC9 in Washington DC. Photo: Torres, Mackenzie Scott, DC9

WASHINGTON, March, 15, 2013 —From a conceptual standpoint, Torres is a very difficult band to consider. For all intents and purposes, the project/band is the sole creation of singer/songwriter Mackenzie Scott. But that wouldn’t be easiest thing to discern by watching her perform live at her recent DC9 appearance.

This isn’t to say she isn’t dominant when she’s on the stage. There is no one else in her band that even remotely shares the spotlight with her while she’s performing. Yet that feels more like happenstance than design. When she’s standing in front of the crowd, she has shy and nervous mannerisms when she’s not performing, making it tough to look away from hers whenever she’s not playing. This becomes interesting once gets back into action. There’s scarcely any difference.

Whether you’re supposed to pay attention to her or not, you end up paying attention to her. All the tendencies she projects, whether in the spotlight or not, unintentionally become explicit with her music.

When she mentions at the end of the band’s set that this is their first tour – which is in support their recently released album, Torres – that seems the least shocking thing in the world to hear.  Though all this might imply that Torres is a bit rough around the edges and might not have a fully formed as to her persona, sound, or band, that notion couldn’t be further from the truth.

While some bands throw everything together quickly, put a few songs together, and burst forth ready for a live performance, this seems the antithesis of Scott and what she’s put together with Torres. There’s nothing haphazard about her live sound. Everything she and her band play appears to be meticulously organized and arranged for maximum effect. From the standpoint of performance, her ideas and sound are fully formed.

Torres’ sound is not overly complicated. What she plays is somewhat typical of the singer/songwriter set. Her sound is emotionally revealing and her lyrics are confessional in style, sometimes to the point of being too specific. Still, she sells everything with a quivering voice that highlights the confusion and uncertainty coiled up in her lyrical narrative which in itself is always clear.

Everything else about her set is built around this confessional lyricism. Again, it’s not complicated, but then she doesn’t really have to be, so stripping her sound down works to her favor. Her sound is alt-country influenced, much like M. Ward has been putting out in recent years, yet there’s a tinge of darkness and dread around the edges. None of her songs ever feel dour, however, even though they emphasizes some flavor of despair. But that seems to be Torres’ point as a band.

Despite some odd affectations when it comes to her self-projection, Mackenzie Scott’s set with Torres demonstrates confidence. Scott’s intent is to project the inner turmoil in her songs, and she does this to great effect. This is just a start for Torres. If her show here is any indication of what’s to come for her, then big things are very likely on their way.

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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