At the end of “Honey”, as the reverb on the guitars is dying down, you hear twenty-two year-old Mackenzie Scott let out a sigh. It’s been a grueling five and a half minutes, and the sigh the singer lets out seems to be an indication of the emotions she’s managed to convey. For me, to hear “Honey” for the first time – I mean to really hear it, eyes closed, ears open – was to feel in a way I hadn’t experienced through a song before.
Everything in the song, from shaky guitar in the right channel, to the thumping beats of the floor tom in the left, to the way Scott’s voice is distorted in the chorus serves as a means to an end. In a case of the whole being much more than the sum of its parts, every delicate detail of “Honey” is a showing of the power of simplicity and, especially, honesty in a musical piece. In essence, the listener can’t help but feel that whatever happened to Scott that inspired her to write the song has happened to them too, a remarkable feat, especially for someone so young.
Born in Nashville, Mackenzie Scott performs under the name Torres, which may or may not be a reference to the Spanish soccer/football player (unlikely), or just simply towers (more likely, but still unclear). First exploring music through an acoustic guitar, it wasn’t until she received a Gibson 335 as a gift that she was able to find the sound she was looking for.
That sound is an incredibly rough one, but one that adds to the singer’s message just as much as the lyrical content of her songs. One element that adds incredibly to that sound was the process for recording the ten songs found on her debut, self-titled album. Recorded live to tape with as few overdubs as possible, the feeling one gets when listening is equal parts transparent, sincere, and imperfection. And in a world where everything else seems to be reaching the opposite ends of those qualities, it’s incredibly refreshing.
I’m not really able to pinpoint any specific musical references when listening to Torres, because her style of music is very much unfamiliar to me. But I think it’s striking that an artist so removed from what I would consider my own musical style would resonate so deeply with me. It’s incredibly clear that Scott has a gift not only for storytelling, but also for unique songwriting as well, with unconventional song structures and builds that never fully climax. Or like on “Jealousy and I”, where she treats jealousy like a person, but still claims that “she’s all mine”. At the end of the song, that phrase is repeated over and over, each a bit more faint than the previous one, as if Scott is realizing the contradiction of her words.
Perhaps more than anything else Scott seems to be in tune with the very idea of emotions, what they mean, how they’re felt, and how to convey them. It’s not always an easy ride with her, but it’s an incredibly rewarding one that deserves your time of day. And like my first experience with “Honey”, it’s best enjoyed fully immersed.