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Torres - Silver Tongue (Album Review)

Friday, 07 February 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Michael Lavine

‘Silver Tongue’ is Mackenzie Scott’s fourth studio album as Torres, and the first since she split from label 4AD and signed with the North Carolina indie staple Merge. It’s a largely accomplished record that straddles country, indie and alt-folk, but while Scott’s eclectic musicality and airy drawl make it distinctive, none of the tunes live terribly long in the memory.

One of the LP's singles, Dressing America, is a case in point. We open with strummed guitar dawdling over reverby ambience and lyrics that are steeped in queer, Southern gentility: “I tend to sleep with my boots on / Should I need to gallop over dark waters /To you, on short notice.”

There is real elegance and thoughtfulness in the writing and performance. But it is shot through with rather pedestrian arrangement.

As the song picks up, an e-bow is employed next to church organs and layered vocals. It should be ground shaking stuff, but the effect is quite underwhelming. It’s a song that appears designed to close a headline set, but feels better suited to a support act.

This is not to state that Scott’s brand of understated country rock always misfires. Good Scare and Last Forest land handsomely, but with some of the same problems. The arrangements are a little more adventurous here, with sequenced drums and synth tomfoolery that recalls truly experimental work by Radiohead and Sigur Rós, but the composition lacks the bleeding edge of those groups.

Scott is a fine wordsmith and, actually, the lyrics are the best thing about ‘Silver Tongue’. But as a musical spectacle, there is a lot of better stuff out there. She has gone on record to say that her influences here span Gregorian chant music, Phil Collins’ percussive Tarzan soundtrack, and Enya. If true, those fascinating musical threads are buried very deeply. Perhaps she should cover her tracks a little less well.

Torres Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue March 03 2020 - BRISTOL Louisiana
Wed March 04 2020 - MANCHESTER YES
Thu March 05 2020 - LONDON London Oslo

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