Mackenzie Scott (aka Torres) likes a good juxtaposition. Her music is a tightrope act between vulnerability and violence. Scott’s lyrics often reflect introspection over a backdrop of angular, explosive guitar sounds, and those lyrics and her imagery combat the standard gender tropes by deconstructing their longstanding definitions and re-empowering them for all people. (Look no further than the cover of Torres’ latest album, Thirstier, to see her take on the “classic” guitar pose.)
Even her playing style is at odds with itself. “I prefer fingerpicking. I like playing really crunchy, loud, aggressive stuff in the styling of a classical player. And when it comes time to play big power chords, honestly, I just make my fingers bleed,” she says. Those divergent personalities and approaches result in singular musical snapshots rather than a predictable path through each performance, song, and album.
Sprinter, from 2015, was angsty, urgent, and erratic. And 2017’s Three Futures stripped back the guitar barrage for an electronic bent, centered around stark beats and cold synths. Last year’s self-produced Silver Tongue twisted the previous albums’ makeup into an unusual two-step that often made the guitars pretty and the synths wicked. (Don’t worry, guitar loyalists. There’s still some 6-string fire.) And now Thirstier is a concise blast of catchy, power pop numbers that are heavier and shinier.
Out in support of her new album, Torres’ October 14 Nashville show had her headlining the Exit/In. Before soundcheck Scott introduced PG to her Tele companions, explained why she’d rather play with bloody fingers than use a pick, and showed how seven stomps cover all the shades of traditional rock guitar and much more.